Saturday, January 24, 2009

Jim Napierala. Nice Modernist.

I must come clean about the fact that most abstract art leaves me about as satisfied as a nice hot bowl of water soup. The flatness is visually uninteresting, the lack of emotional content leaves me cold, the lack of narrative content is a snore, and I'm out the door muttering the "d" word: decorative. Chalk up another yawn on Clement Greenberg's tab.

(Above right: "Fornax Chemica", 2008, by Jim Napierala.)

Yet every so often when I'm expecting a water soup I am served up a spicy gumbo by some nice modernist. Such was the visual fare at Sylvester & Co. in Amagansett which exhibited the abstract paintings of Jim Napierala. Jim is a jovial, engaging gent who has invested a significant amount of craft in developing a series of paintings that combine the visual richness of layered materials with undulating geometric patterns. Paint of varying applications (thin, glazed and impasto) jumps to the fore alongside glinting aluminum leaf to create swirling meditative shapes, which Jim carves into the sandwiched surfaces of his pieces.

The surfaces shimmer and undulate, and the eye is lost in a meditative visual space as it follows intertwining linear pathways. The geometric flux reads to me as a visual metaphor for thought itself, as pleasing spiral patterns emerge, referencing each other, flowing back into themselves, and resonate together to create a macro-rhythm. In some of the pieces an illusionistic depth of field hints at opening up, drawing the viewer into Napierala's meditative realm. Nice modernist!

More about Jim's process:

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