Tom Goldenberg, Quadrant (2010), oil on linen, 60″ x 72″; courtesy the artist
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In the aptly titled canvas Grandview (2003), on view at Salander-O’Reilly, the painter Tom Goldenberg pays homage to the rolling hills of Dutchess County, doing so through color (a beneficent yellow suffuses the canvas) and, in particular, composition. He transforms the three-part structure of landscape painting–foreground, middle ground, background–by multiplying it by three, so the eye takes a full nine steps before it reaches the bucolic clouds drifting over the horizon.
Even with the sky, things are complicated: The clouds press forward, collapsing distance by propelling it toward the surface of the canvas. In fact, each section of the picture has its idiosyncrasies: Mr. Goldenberg’s deceptively straightforward depiction of farmland is, in reality, a fairly intricate (not to say abstract) orchestration of space, rhythm and incident.
He does something similar to the hills of Italy in Monte Argentario (2003), though not as persuasively. Perhaps a familiarity with upstate New York allows Mr. Goldenberg a greater sense of pictorial license. Then again, Dutchess County can’t claim indigenous cactus, the subject behind the exhibition’s most inspired passage of painting.
© 2004 Mario Naves
Originally published in the March 28, 2004 edition of The New York Observer.