Cherry-picking from the Archives

Tine Lundsfryd, Pause (2007-2008), acrylic, chalk, pencil, color pencil and oil on canvas, 64″ x 73″; courtesy Lori Bookstein Fine Art

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The following review appeared in the October 18, 2004 edition of The New York Observer and is posted here on the occasion of Tine Lundsfryd’s current exhibition at Lori Bookstein Fine Art (September 15-October 15, 2011).

A good portion of the paintings in Tine Lundsfryd’s first one-person exhibition at Lori Bookstein Fine Art have been sold. This is, I think, a heartening sign. Not that the extent to which an artist sells work is a gauge of its merit: If we’re to believe the red dots surfeiting the price lists regularly seen on the front desk at Mary Boone Gallery, there’s no shortage of collectors who are soon parted from their money.

What distinguishes Ms. Lundsfryd’s sales is that they seem to indicate an audience hungry for serious abstract painting, an audience willing to put its money where its eye is. Ms. Lundsfryd’s geometric paintings are slow- burning, quietly ambitious and self-effacing. They are the antithesis of the chilly, quick-fix sensationalism dominating the scene. The pleasures—and challenges—that Ms. Lundsfryd proffers aren’t commensurate with a culture infatuated with technology, celebrity and mass media.

Seen in that light, you might be tempted to peg her as an anomaly or a throwback. The truth is, she has bigger fish to fry. Viewing art as a continuum that spans the centuries, she partakes of influences as diverse as Zurbarán, John Cage, the quilters of Gee’s Bend and, I would argue, the painters decorating the caves at Altamira. For what thrives in Ms. Lundsfryd’s art is the notion—and, in fact, the reality—that marks on a flat surface can take on a magical independence.

Working off a grid delineated in pencil, she creates an all-over faceting, a network of color and space. Rectangles, diamonds and triangles coalesce into crystalline fields that recall game boards, the cosmos and, skittering through the slow accumulations of pattern, the landscape. Subtle shifts in rhythm, value, scale and touch make for compositions that pulse, flow, evolve and shimmer. There’s something meditative about the gentle and tenacious way that Ms. Lundsfryd applies oil to canvas—something skeptical, too.

That the pictures embody contradictory impulses without straining attests to Ms. Lundsfryd’s ability to endow limited form with manifold meaning. 

“It’s hard to believe that somebody has the nerve to use this language again” is how a flabbergasted writer for Vogue recently described Ms. Lundsfryd’s approach to “true abstraction.” Nerve has nothing to do with it—conviction does. That it is conjoined with a tough and tensile painterly gift makes Ms. Lundsfryd’s debut a salutary alternative to the distractions that pass for art in our time.

© 2004 Mario Naves

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