Photo Essays

Margrit Lewczuk’s Patterned Abstractions

by Hrag Vartanian on December 11, 2010

The family dog, Lucy, takes a breather in the main gallery. (click to enlarge)

I’m kicking myself for not getting to painter Margrit Lewczuk‘s vibrant show in the heart of Williamsburg sooner. I stepped into the fantastic show on its second to last day. Located on a stretch of Metropolitan that is quickly being transformed by new developments, the show is in a low-rise warehouse fitted with fantastic skylights that, on the day I visited, bathes the gallery with an even light.

I had been hearing about her paintings for years but had few opportunities to see their swirling seas of abstraction in person. Her paintings are usually dominated by symmetrical linear patterns fashioned with bright acrylic colors except when figural forms emerge, which have the effect of decentralizing the composition. In general, the works share more compositional affinities with textiles than paintings with their large motifs that repeat across the surface.

In her review of Lewczuk’s DIY gallery show, New York Times critic Roberta Smith wrote:

these slightly loopy, often looping abstractions reject stylish chic or high finish. They seem inspired by tribal motifs — carvings, ceramics, textiles — but amp up such sources with bright, sometimes fluorescent colors.

In his essay in the show’s catalogue, James Kalm writes:

… colors are almost painfully pure, bright and dry. Gnarly compositions have been simplified to near symmetrical tantric or Cycladic-like images. Brushwork is brisk and urgent. Patterning begins to fuse the figure to ground, presenting a stark flat frontality.

I highly recommend that you run to the gallery and see the show before it closes tomorrow, Sunday. This is a rare opportunity to see the work of this highly individualistic abstractionist. The basement gallery has an added surprise, paintings created with phosphorescent paint that hang in a room with a light that every two minutes turns on or off, bring a buzz.

I would also recommend reading Lewczuk’s conversation with Phong Bui in the Brooklyn Rail (June 2010) that discusses the artist’s life, influences, and evolution. And James Kalm’s Rough Cut video segment in Lewczuk’s studio, is also worth a look.

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The entrance to the pop-up gallery that features Lewczuk’s lyrical abstractions.

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The main gallery features works from 2007-2009. Left to right, “Untitled” (2009), “Untitled” (2007), “Untitled” (2008), “Connies Drum” (2007), and “Mayan Time” (2009).

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“Connies Drum” (2007) and “Mayan Time” (2009).

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“Untitled” (2009) was the most recent work on display.

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Stairs lead to a secret-seeming room in the basement.

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“Acrobat” (2004) greets you below before you walked to the “Rear Gallery” filled with paintings that incorporate phosphorescent paint. The lights in the Rear Gallery turned on and off every two minutes.

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With the lights on the paintings looked like most of Lewczuk’s other paintings. Left to right, “Day” (2004), “Moondog” (2003), and “Firefly” (2003).

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With the lights off their secret was revealed.

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With the lights on. Left to right, “Baila” (2002), “Untitled” (2008), and “Cross I” (2006).

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And lights off.

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Collages from 2008 to 2010 lined the hallway downstairs.

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“Dusk” (2008) greets you before you step out into the side courtyard. There is also a large format catalogue available that features reproductions of her work and an essay by James Kalm.

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Outside a work by Lewczuk hangs in the garden where bamboo is growing.

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“Untitled” (2008) hangs near the gallery desk.

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Margrit Lewszuk’s solo pop-up show, “Margrit Lewczuk: Art Work,” closes tomorrow (Sunday, December 12, 2010) and is located at 85 Metropolitan Avenue, near Wythe Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

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  • Joelenmulvaney

    Love that you called it a “pop up”. Known Lewczuk’s work for many years, this show is an exciting moment in a long progression of efforts toward what is described here as “highly individualistic”…that’s Margrit, and thank goddess for it!

  • James Kalm

    Glad you got a chance to finally check out Margrit’s work. Great job of photographing the phosphorescent paintings (how’d you do that?). These enigmatic works deserve ,more exposure. NICE.

    • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

      One word, tripod!

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