Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Lisa Murgo at the Red Horse Cafe

Cool Evolution

Lisa Murgo

I don’t often take refreshments at cafes, but I’ve followed the shows in Park Slope’s Red Horse Cafe quietly for some time.  Their curatorial bent, often of quirky sensibility, their irreverence and “not too seriousness,” their often spooky obscureness, like that of Tim Burton’s movies, has kept me returning to look.  Lisa Murgo is what I found this time, in late March, a painter of perhaps a more “serious,” abstract expressionist bent than anything I’ve chanced to see there.

Lisa Murgo is an artist who knows what she’s going for.  Or, maybe I should say the several things she’s going for, since she alternates between different manners.  But, with each distinct manner, she sets a course and follows it unwaveringly.  In fact, the art work, hung by the artist, I expect, created passages of amazing consistency.  The eye glides over a conglomeration of pictures.  When the eye reaches an imaginary border, the manner changes.  Then you travel new look country, till you reach another imaginary border.  And then the next ensemble begins, and so on.  I see this artist working single-mindedly each time, gesturing reflexively in some creative nexus.

Quite pure in their black and whiteness, and impeccably paced, with forceful gestures and judicious rests, Ms. Murgo’s large drawings win my attention handily.  The absence of other color conveys an unequivocal self assurance.  To me they say, “There’s nothing to think about, here; I know who I am, and this life I give you comes from who I am.”

Then the lady turns, on a dime, and takes you the barrio; loud, totally boisterous, and unccordinated, but, consistently inconsistent color drowns out your quietude.  I was amazed, when getting a close look at a watercolor in the 10” range, that the assortment of colors I had accused, at first, of calling out, “Me!  Me!  Me!,” without regard to their neighbors, brothers and sisters, were all so evenly matched that they harmonized grandly.

This artist, with her many impulses, will do things differently, sometimes.  I will not like every mood equally.  The pictures that least pleased me tended to be large, and covered with a bramble of circular scrawls that made clutter and unclarity.  And with loud , isolated colors that needed another voice to harmonize, but didn’t find one.  I could no longer find Ms. Murgo’s energy there.  Although, through the abundant energy she delivers elsewhere, the artist will keep our interest for many more seasons.


  1. Hi Manuel,
    Thanks you for taking the time & energy for this review. It is always interesting to hear other's perceptions, particularly other artists, of my work. I also respect your criticism and smiled when I realized which drawing you were not "feeling"...others made similar observations as well. I will keep you posted for upcoming shows & events and you do the same, okay?

  2. I get a kick out of the work by artists of all the stripes that exist today. As I once heard someone observe, the differences between artists today can shift so much more than they did, say, in Raphael's day. It's so interesting to see the whole gamut. And it's so interesting that, the differences being so great, there are so many bright artists working in all these different modes. Each of us is a part of that marvelous assortment. And yes, I'll be very happy to see more of your work, and happy to keep you posted.