“…his art remains very much “art,” with centric shapes and forms, a predominantly gray palette that rarely warms beyond rust and ochre, and a journeyman’s approach to drawing and paint application.”
Rife with diagrams and illusions of perception, Ron Linden’s paintings both mine and undermine the vocabulary of Abstract Expressionist and Conceptual art, as well as Modernist sculpture and design. This selection of 12 to 14 small- and medium- scale acrylic and graphite on wood and acrylic and graphite on canvas abstract paintings spans over thirty years of Linden’s career and features a range of signature imagery ? biomorphic shapes, graphic elements, and schematically rendered items of furniture, books, and draftsman’s tools ? that invite multiple readings.
The exhibition begins with a selection of paintings from the late 70s to 80s ? a period in which uncluttered, monochrome works marked Linden’s wry investigations of two- and three- dimensional forms. Part of a series of depictions of isolated objects in empty spaces, in Mum’s Muteyness, 1977, for example, Linden questions the relationship of pictorial structure to “real” space by challenging perspective and contradicting perception through forms that appear to be both receding and advancing.
In Rubric, 2003, Linden slyly subverts select conventions of French decorative painting. Sweeping horizontal lines and splats of paint are applied to the background to create a grungy, staining effect mimicking what happens to scenic flats when they’re left lying on the shop floor. Adding to the sense of humorous doubt in Linden’s work, eyes, lips, and bodily orifices seem to burrow their way through many of his paintings on view.
The artist’s penchant for plotting surrogate maps from patterns comprised of mechanical and graphic elements flourishes in his most recent paintings, as exemplified by the ellipses and exclamation point featured in Phook, 2007. Linden strings together shapes the way the best writers choose words to create sentences that invite real contemplation.