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Pavel Zoubok Gallery opens solo exhibitions of works by Fritz Bultman and Jim Gaylord
Fritz Bultman (1919-1985), Untitled (Wave), 1977. Oil on canvas, 72 x 56 inches. Courtesy of the estate of Fritz Bultman and Pavel Zoubok Gallery, New York.

NEW YORK, NY.- Pavel Zoubok Gallery is featuring two solo exhibitions featuring Abstract Expressionist painter-turned hard-edged abstractionist, Fritz Bultman (1919-1985), and Brooklyn-based artist Jim Gaylord, whose collages of painted papers build upon and extend the aesthetics of Henri Matisse's pioneering "cut-outs."

On view in the main space are large-scale paintings and collages from the 1960s and ‘70s by New Orleans native Fritz Bultman. His bold, free form collages, richly saturated in primary colors, made their first appearance in the 1960s and are an extension of his sculpture and painting practice. The play between tightly delineated form and painterly gesture reflect the poles of European modernism and Abstract Expressionism that would continue to define Bultman's work. Critic Douglas Crimp describes his collages as “reminiscent of the late Matisse in their monumental size (some are eight feet high), sensuous shapes and exuberant red, blue and gold acrylic colors.” Bultman's process involved painting entire drawing pads with unmixed primary colors and then piecing together countless fragments, employing cut and torn edges in unexpected ways. Like many collagists he reveled in the obsessive placement of his materials before committing to a final composition, a practice similarly employed by his colleague, friend and neighbor, Robert Motherwell. Bultman writes, “I began to work anew in collage from a center outward, rather than working on the confines of a sheet of paper. By adding piece to piece I find a means to give me a collage of random shape through random growth.” The results are abstract works that are confrontational in their assertive use of line and color, and often suggest figuration in their sensuous curves and rejection of the rectilinear picture plane.

Fritz Bultman studied at the New Bauhaus in Chicago and extensively with Hans Hofmann in New York City and Provincetown, Massachusetts, two cities where he lived and worked from the early 1940s until his death in 1985. By the late 1940s, Bultman was exhibiting with other Abstract Expressionists at New York’s Kootz Gallery, and by 1950 was associated with the group of New York School artists, famously referred to by Life magazine as the “Irascibles.” His work is in numerous public and private collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Corcoran Gallery, among others. During the Civil Rights movement he was involved in forming an art collection for Tougaloo College, a historically black liberal arts institution in Mississippi. He was also a founding member of the Long Point Gallery in Provincetown. In 1993, his work was celebrated with the exhibition, Fritz Bultman: A Retrospective, at the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Mining similar aesthetic ground, Jim Gaylord’s "cut-out" collages can be described as constructed paintings, reflecting an interest in both two and three-dimensional space. Working decades after Bultman, he employs the technologies of computer imaging in the planning and construction of his work. By cutting out shapes from heavy-stock watercolor paper, then painting them with gouache, Gaylord sharply defines curved and planar forms, often suggesting bas-relief. The expansive compositions are decidedly abstract and rich in saturated color. Like his forebear, he experiments in the visual play of form and color before arriving at a final collage construction. Gaylord describes his unique process:

The imagery, which was originally based on abstract moments in action film stills, has been manipulated and reinterpreted…By slowing down cinematic action sequences frame by frame, I can isolate moments of distortion, particularly of the figure, that appear mysterious yet uncannily specific. I gather hundreds of these images and rearrange them digitally to create new abstractions, using formalism as a guide.

He then recreates the composites, collaging the shapes together to mimic the layers and forms found in the original Photoshop studies. The title Sticky Wicket is a phrase originally used to describe soggy ground in a game of Cricket. It later became slang for a circumstance requiring delicate treatment or an awkward situation. The expression captures Gaylord’s interest in creating works that appear at once "logical" and playfully quirky. This ebullience can be seen clearly in the titular work, Sticky Wicket, in which bright, painterly passages lead the eye in a dance across the picture surface, in search of the familiar. In the center is a web of intense yellow, which quickly dissolves into a fractured chrysalis of colors below.

Jim Gaylord’s work has been exhibited within the United States and abroad including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, as well as Milan, Toronto, Berlin and Tokyo. His work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the West Collection, Oaks, PA and the Progressive Art Collection, Cleveland, OH. He has received fellowships and grants from The PollockKrasner Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts and The Joan Mitchell Foundation. This is his first exhibition at Pavel Zoubok Gallery.

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