Thomas Erben Gallery is very excited to present a solo exhibition with New York-based painter Harriet Korman. The artist previously participated in two of our group shows, Painting in due time (2017) and of certain instability (2011).
Presenting a new body of work, Korman continues her celebrated engagement with colour, geometry, the picture plane, paint, and her handling of it. With such interests, Korman has frequently been cited as a champion of geometric abstraction or cast as a colourist: roles she has subtly side-stepped for decades. Countering an understanding of her work that can often be too programmatic, this new series steers towards her work's ability to surprise. Permeable/Resistant captures Korman where she often works: challenging and disrupting first impressions.
Varying between loose, rapid (oilstick) drawings and slow deliberate (oil) paintings, the exhibition opens a space to the genial directness of Korman's work, a recognition that bespeaks of the personal quality to her art. The exhibition flows with colours, rhythm, structure, intensity, and more than a few variances–often the lines in her paintings don't match up; what appears to be symmetrical is not; clean edges are betrayed by their undisguised hand-painted nature; surfaces vary due to the materiality of the paints she applied.
Embarking on this new body of work, drawing in oilstick, a quadrant format emerged that became the series. Some of these were then reworked into oil paintings. Reflecting on this process, Korman noted how, 'The transformation of the loose, quick drawings to a slow deliberate painting is curious. Like a translation, once removed from the original, there is a quirkiness and unpredictability.'
Immediately striking is the intensity of Korman's colours; they project a particular clarity and strength. This is in part due to Korman's decision in 1996 to not add white into her colours. One reason for this radical decision was that lighter values usually allude to light and space–not an interest of hers. Another was to see the true intensity and beauty of the colour right out of the tube. And while she does not mix in white, Korman frequently uses earth colours along with the highly saturated hues, adding an additional dimension to the their initial, immediate appeal.
'This makes sense to me', Korman has explained, testifying to the matter-of-factness, a quiet sense, and the personal aspects, all present in her work. In this way, Permeable/Resistant tends to mirror some of the simplicity, use of geometry, and directness in two artists Korman particularly admires: Sol Lewitt and Louis Kahn. Indeed, by pairing her recent output in painting and drawing, Permeable/Resistant hints to that particular constant in Korman's work: it's ability to be simultaneously complex and uncomplicated, enduring and personal.
Press release courtesy Thomas Erben Gallery.
When asked how she starts one of her recent quadrant-based paintings, Harriet Korman replies that her first step is to "find the center." She does so without the assistance of any measuring device, relying solely on her hand and eye to determine the point from which she will begin building out her right-angled bands of color.
Harriet Korman began exhibiting her abstract paintings in 1971, during Conceptual Art’s ascendancy and when many in the art establishment considered painting to be a casualty of history’s progress. Working in the wake of Minimalism, Color Field painting, shaped paintings, and painting-as-object, Korman rejected the argument Donald Judd put forth...