Art Science & Alchemy™
ART REVIEWS/Helen A. Harrison
East Meadow Public Library, 1886 Front Street, East Meadow
Although not quite so pure as its title implies, Barry Feuerstein's brand of abstraction does reduce its imagery to basic. That is all to the good, since the dominant subject is headhunters' trophies. And there are plenty of them in this overcrowded installation, which also includes several of Mr. Feuerstein's expressively painted chromatic studies and works based on ancient hieroglyphics. A tighter selection, focuses on the "Papua New Guinea Head Hunters" variations, would have shown the series to greater advantage.
Thanks to the artist's formalistic approach, the series is far from grotesque, nor does it exploit the curiosity value of such souvenirs. Rather, the head, literally disembodied but not gruesomely severed, becomes a constant motif that symbolizes the dead warrior's spirit. Singly and in serried rows, the heads function more as masklike emblems or veiled presences, often seeming to float in shallow space. Collaged areas of ground-up herbs create the sculptural texture of protean faces that sometimes sink beneath layers of paint, sometimes merge with their surroundings and sometimes assert themselves forcefully.
In some of the larger paintings, the head shapes and the poles on which they are displayed all but disappear in generalized compositions, so that their importance is more structural than thematic. In "No. 55", for example, the surrounding terrain, with its dusty earth colors and coppery undertones, is dominant. Mr. Feuerstein makes effective use of copper paint, and of shimmering copper leaf, as an accent in several works, among them "Egyptian Syntax", which synthesizes references to papyrus scrolls and temple carvings.
The Hebrew Home at Riverdale
Alchemy in Art - Selected Abstract Sculpture by Barry Feuerstein takes inspiration from science and the natural world - particle physics, mathematical principles, and global warming. Abstraction in the 1960s is on display through July 28; Alchemy in Art is up through December 29, 10:30 AM – 4:30 PM, Hebrew Home at Riverdale, 5901 Palisade Avenue, Bronx.
©2014 Barry Feuerstein. All rights reserved.