levine & puleo


dow & sparks

March 9 - April 13
, 2001

David Levine & Antonio Adriano Puleo represent the first of two concurrent two-person exhibitions at Gallery Bershad. These two painters have been friends since 1996 when they met while living in Boston. Several years later, Levine finds his home in New York City while Puleo lives in California. This exhibition recalls last year’s exhibition Coast to Coast, but reflects Bershad’s recent change of direction by juxtaposing a Bershad veteran with a young gun from art-star studded UCLA.

David Levine: until recently a Boston resident, lives and works out of his studio in Manhattan where he has exhibited at Gallery Onetwentyeight. Since his last exhibition at Bershad one year ago, Levine’s work has expanded its vocabulary and scope. His works on paper are still spacious and are more concise than ever. Minimal marks on paper with short textual elements offer circular forms that drift slightly away from what we expect to be symmetrical. His color palette further creates an oscillation which prevents the eye from resting in the center of the circular forms. This tension is then juxtaposed with a textual snippet, or quotation, which attempts to create a similar resonance in the realm of language. Whether recalling a line from a song we fondly remember, a clever turn of the tongue, or a red herring Levine reminds us that some words just sound memorable enough to trigger the sense of recollection. His approach to both visual art and language is whimsical, and the spaciousness of the work opens the viewer to an experience akin to losing oneself in song.

Antonio Adriano Puleo: grew up in Boston and attended under-graduate studies at The Massachusetts College of Art. He currently lives in Los Angeles and attends the UCLA graduate painting program. His work was most recently exhibited at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. Unlike Levine’s abstract forms in space, Puleo’s work offers a landscape in which representational forms are heavily abstracted and stylized; what Puleo and Levine have in common is a whimsical approach to their respective topics. This affinity underscores their creative work together and the tone of their discourse. To this end, the artists have created two works for this exhibition as part of a collaborative process. The artists have swapped two works through the mail, back and forth, such that the first hand in the work also gets the “last licks.” Puleo will also be installing a selection of his works including

Karen Dow & Laurel Sparks represent the second of two concurrent two person exhibitions at Gallery Bershad. These two painters first exhibited together at Gallery Bershad during the modernMODULAR exhibition late last year where their work initiated a conversation which has lead to this exhibition. Both artists manage to bring new life to familiar projects in the discourse of contemporary painting. Dow’s work brings new subtlety to a formal project with the use of birch plywood surfaces while Sparks manages to take visceral drum-like surfaces of paper-pulp into the realm of tight design.

Karen Dow: Graduated from the Yale University MFA painting/print-making program in 1998. She has stayed in New Haven where she currently paints and runs a gallery aptly named Untitled Space. Her work uses horizontal stripes of color to affect our perceptual experience of surface and depth. Dow’s work relates to the optical artwork of Brigett Riley (recently featured at the DIA Center for The Arts), but takes the baton another step. Her work enhances/prononounces the harmonies and discordant stripes with the use of the birch panels. The measure and rhythm of the stripes are in part dictated by the wood-grain on which Dow paints; as the grain comes through the paint, which is applied with varying opacity, the oscillation between surface and depth locates the viewer in the space of perceptual resonance. The size of the work and their placement flush to the wall further seduce the viewer into a bodily relationship to the painted surface. Though Dow’s work may at first blush appear merely quiet and poetic, it is also quite complex in the whispering subtlety of the relationships orchestrated between color, composition, and organic patterning.

Laurel Sparks: is a local artist based in Jamaica Plain and is a Graduate of the School of The Museum Fine Arts in Boston. Sparks’ work has won several awards and was most recently curated into an exhibition at the MPG Gallery by Rachel Lafo, Senior Curator at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA. Sparks’ paintings use paper-pulp, foam, and vellum to create a drum-like surface that represents a threshold between internal and external worlds. Her visceral works somehow transcend a vocabulary of materials which often recall craft work but which bring us into a design oriented landscape. The threshold of her surfaces recall the organic skin of a drum which simultaneously expresses beauty and violence. Whether this surface is punctured or scarred there is a tight compositional balance which seduces us through a visceral reaction and into the presence of a complex appreciation for the relationships set up between repetitive and random elements.

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