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Exhibition at Lennon, Weinberg presents paintings by Roy Dowell and Richard Kalina
Richard Kaline, Sector 2, 2017. 39 x 34 1/2 in. Oil on linen.

NEW YORK, NY.- This exhibition presents a dialogue between the paintings of Roy Dowell and Richard Kalina. Both painters are represented by Lennon, Weinberg, and their most recent solo exhibitions here took place in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

In 2012, the Brooklyn Rail published “The Four Corners of Painting,” a look at the “general state of painting” by Richard Kalina. In the article, he made the point that the contours of painting are known and that “all forms of paintings are being practiced in roughly equal measure.”

Kalina identified four categories in which paintings operate: the Mimetic, the Stylized Mimetic, the Abstract-Mimetic Hybrid and the Fully Abstract, a category he breaks down into four areas, one of which, the Organized Organic, is characterized by what might be called a grammatical approach. This is the space in which the work of both Kalina and Dowell can be found.

Kalina has been working with systematic variations within selfimposed criteria of scale, proportion and structural elements. The narrow vertical Parameter paintings have a silhouetted figure; the horizontal formats of the Kromos series complicate and expand those shapes; while the Sector and Counterpart series open themselves to grids, pathways, and keyholes that penetrate the form and cause the figure and ground to freely change places. These chromatically rich compositions reference the plans and elevations of architecture as well as the complexities and pleasures of pattern and decoration, creating in the process a balance of both symmetrical and asymmetrical elements. Working now with oil on linen, a painterly hand is clearly present on the surface.

Roy Dowell has suggested that “Kalina and I both deal with democracy in our paintings but deal with it in different ways. He sees the similarities between components and works at a unification, where I take from disparate sources because I see them as having equal value. Coming at democracy from two different directions.”

His paintings incorporate a vast field of references, from American modernism, collage, Latin American decorative motifs and ethnographic material from Africa and elsewhere. His compositions evoke “things,” such as a shield or sign, brooch or vessel, and often juxtapose a flat field with a suggestion of space or volume. His mark-making is improvisatory and rhythmic, and his shapes are more wobbly than fixed, yet at the same time perfectly poised. Working in acrylic on linen allows subtle layering and transparency in a range of idiosyncratic colors familiar to followers of Dowell’s work.

It is interesting to parse the similarities and differences between their paintings. The pleasure of the show, however,is to eavesdrop on a conversation taking place between Dowell and Kalina’s paintings in the realm of the purely visual. The language of their paintings is different—as if one was speaking Spanish and the other French, but they both share an underlying syntax that makes the conversation intelligible. From the studios (Dowell’s in Los Angeles, Kalina’s in New York) of two painters of similar age, experience and interests— who by the way have never met—have emerged two new and distinct bodies of work that relate to each other in an especially stimulating way.

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