Monday, May 4, 2009

Exhibition: Jackie Lipton at Corinne Robbins

Corinne Robbins, whose space has functioned, for some 5 years, as a furniture showroom, has opened her first fine art exhibition with the ambitious and energetic paintings of Jackie Lipton.  Ms. Lipton works in oil paint, cold wax and alkyd media.  Her press release speaks about her commitment to process, which is evident in her canvases.  It also speaks of her as an abstract cityscape painter.  This may be less evident, but an abstract painter residing in New York City, as she does, may be an abstract cityscape painter, not literally, but psychologically.

There’s nothing wrong with a little straight ahead abstract expressionism and Jackie Lipton gives it to you.  The notion that pictures made in certain genres already noted in the art history books are passé carry no weight here.  The painter Nell Blaine, for example, made great, very energetic fauvist paintings this side of World War II.  She’s due much recognition from those who like their paintings to demonstrate such energy.  Ms. Lipton’s paintings, too, are generally intense, and give pleasure to those who rock to that aesthetic.

“Because the Night,” 2005, makes the most of its under layers.  Its bumps and ridges achieve a uniform, atmospheric crudeness.  If you could work yourself up you could call it ugly.  If the surface were a sound it would possess the chronic raspyness heard in Bob Dylan’s late recordings.  It evokes a dusty, pocked and neglected plaster wall (abstract cityscape, anyone?)  Its narrow palette, the consistency of its scratchy brushwork, and the singularity of its appearance among Jackie Lipton’s work, make for a savory picture viewing experience.

That painting, measuring 52” X 64”, along with others in that size range, among them “Whirl Away,” and “Ghost Dance,” show Ms. Lipton is comfortable working on a large scale.  In them, she effects a bold gesture that carries at a distance.  Forcefully executed statements on this scale say, “monumental.”  When I stand before these I experience the artist’s bravery in the exploration of pictorial issues.

Given works disappoint me, though such works are in the minority.  “Christopher,” 2007, one of the large ones, is one such picture.  For me, the relentless and over saturated yellow that runs throughout this surface gives the other colors, all of which look wan, by comparison, “no chance to talk.”  Color is always a matter of relationship, regardless of the content.  For that yellow’s expressiveness to bloom it might have to congregate with other, equally strident colors, on some other canvas.  But, again, as I looked around the show, I found much to enjoy.

Some of Jackie Lipton’s notable smaller statements include “Breath to Breath Series #6, 2007, with the colors and texture of watermelon pulp, which may cause you to salivate in anticipation of a tasty summer treat.  Also, “Up There Down There #11, 2006, with it’s subtle and alluring tonality.  Looking at this one you may forget, momentarily, that Ms. Lipton is adept at play with more flamboyant colors.

Corinne Robbins is off to an exciting beginning with her fine art exhibitions.  We should also expect many more ambitious and satisfying statements from Jackie Lipton.  The current show continues to May 17, 2009.

Corinne Robbins Gallery

147 Atlantic Avenue (Between Clinton and Henry)

(718) 855-1672

E-mail Corinne Robbins at:

Transportation: #2, #3, or #4, #5 Trains to Borough Hall, or R Train to Court Street.


  1. I'm seeing more of an abstractly interpreted tabletop, from a bird's eye view, than abstract expressionism. The concept at the heart of abstract expressionism involves the freeing of contours describing forms by conceptually hanging them either on a field of air or on the surface of water (two descriptions meant to be analogous to the picture plane). Described here are a dark coffee cup and a transparent drinking glass with a Pepsi logo behind it--giving me the impression of tabletop. What I like the most about the image is the means of
    expression bears a kinship to the art of Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest (famous for their totems), such as the Kwakiutl.

  2. Hm. This picture, out of many possible choices, does look like a still life on a table top. Most others would probably have looked less like that. But that doesn't entirely keep it from being abstract expressionist, does it? Van Gogh was painting in the name of Impressionism. Later observers called him "post impressionist," or "expressionist." But, if "disintegration" is requisite, Jackie still gives us some of that on the right hand side of the image.
    I'm intrigued by your statement about the concept of abstract expressionism. Perhaps not having read as much theoretical writing about this genre, per se, as you may have , I'm wondering, what is the source of your codification? Or, is this your own way of saying it? Anyway, I really liked that way of putting it.

  3. That's my way of thinking about/saying it. I haven't read much of what was critically written re: abstract expressionism--my relationship has been more having to exist IN
    abstract expressionism as a means of survival.
    It's primal. When I came to NYC from the suburbs,and encountered DeKooning's paintings
    first-hand, it was as though I had access to a
    psychic talisman galvanizing me to deal with
    a confusing, foreign urban environment.

    Abstract expressionism is temporal gesturing on an infinite ground. That's why I said "field of air"(imagine what could be done if one could actually brand the air with a hot iron; a kind of sky writing) and surface of water refers to the fluidity that DeKooning put into his cubist framework. He talks about it in the catalogue from the 1978 Guggenheim Retrospective ("Whose Name is Writ in Water" is a painting title). It also has a mathematical aspect to it: a logic of weights,proportions, and contrasts in the drawing of it. It's exactly like doing a Sudoku puzzle--it reduces down to absolute locations for specific marks/color because of the placement and relationships of all other marks/color.

  4. Hi Manuel--Thanks for the review and thoughtful comments. Whirl Away and Ghost Dance are somewhat larger paintings, 72"x 56", but close. And it's early Bob Dylan that I relate to--album,12x5.
    Wayne--I agree totally of water and air, having thought/felt/experienced that often--thanks for reminding me of it in words.
    Jackie Lipton

  5. I'm both totally abstract expressionist and not at all abstract expressionist in my painting...
    Both are true, if one can see/understand that- Makes complete sense to me!