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June 22 - July 29, 2004 at Newspace Gallery, Hollywood

by Mat Gleason

Eric Zammitt, “bluegreygreentwo,” 2003, laminated plexiglass, 17 x 113 x 1 1/2”.

Art with a minimal vocabulary is often mistaken for Minimalism. The artists in this Three Some exhibit work within the confines of the sparse, but are not as confined in their aspirations as the museum-friendly movement dating from the 1960’s would demand.

Eric Zammitt makes geometric abstractions out of clear and colored plastic. The pieces have a visual link to stained glass. The spiritual is rarely connected to the fabricated, but this artist does a good job in bringing a little of the immaterial into the realm of the physical object. Rigid rectilinear compositions are softened by pure light, as well as a blur of what seems to be movement--an inability to capture and control luminescence by an artist acquiescing to natural law. Zammitt works with the physical properties of light rather than against them, all the while maintaining a formal approach to art that favors subtraction and subtlety over razzle dazzle.

Timothy Nolan, “Untitled (fig. 4 x 9),”
2003, oil on cast acrylic panel, 46 x 36”.
Photo: Joshua White.

Timothy Nolan, "Untitled (fig. 15 x 9),"
2003, oil on cast acrylic panel, 46 x 36".
Photo: Joshua White.

Eric Zammitt, “Untitled,” 2003, laminated plexiglass, 8 1/4 x 96 x 1 1/2”.

Timothy Nolan is a veteran of using less in an artwork to produce more. His paintings on cast acrylic panel are illustrations of mellow dissonance. A gray and white snowflake pattern hints at geometry. Nolan paints with enough finesse to avoid the cliché of rigidity that dooms most sparse compositions to the forgotten halls of boredom. The artist merges the synthetic with the sublime, attaining a sort of neurological nirvana that privileges the meditative without referencing or necessarily seeking transcendence. Plastics, by their very nature, are of the material plane and have no spiritual significance. Nolan’s Zen emptiness, however, redeems through clarity.

Gary Szymanski, "Untitled," 2002,
acrylic on canvas, 40 x 40".

Gary Szymanski, , "Untitled," 2002,
acrylic on canvas, 30 x 30"
One hallmark of minimal art is that, radical and nontraditional as it might have been, a lexicon of what is traditional and conventional within its syntax fossilized quickly. These superficial reads ignore the essential hallmark of minimal art--discipline. Gary Szymanski presents square paintings of rigid patterns, unflinching in their repetition and precision. That a painting can be engineered as methodically as a jet airplane is one nuance of minimal art overlooked by most viewers. Whether Szymanski’s paintings are seen as the residue of ritual or the master plan of an obsessed plodder, that they are being made at all underscores the artist’s affirmation that structure is of value in the world, that the ambiguous is not always comfortable and that the absolute can be just as beautiful.

The minimal is one of many ways to compose a picture. It is shortchanged when heeled before the altar of Donald Judd’s specific object. Art world players are regularly seduced by the art market. The need to reduce objects to an art historical value is no longer a strictly academic pursuit. Art investors require it as much for economic motive as aesthetic pleasure. Recent exhibits examining Minimal-ism posit Frank Stella and Judd as Christ and John the Baptist, yet they lead us down a decidedly unspiritual path, right into the party to donate to a museum’s endowment. That Three Some resists such adherence makes it a pleasant respite from both this artificial narrative and the institutional ego.