Reviews & Essays

“Colossi of Color” by Richard O’Corozine

Woodstock Times, Sept. 24, 1992, Woodstock, NY

Splashes of bright colors. Big, elastic paintings. Diptychs and triptychs. The Kleinert has it all with its exhibition of Barbara LaVerdiere Bachner’s heroic abstractions.

With her paintings in grand 1950s scale, and with tips of her brush to Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko, Bachner shifts the forms, from stripes to angles to field painting, from shimmering suns to black circles and silver reeds and back again, a true catechism of surface painting. Sometimes she evokes Motherwell, as the forms are edged, cutting into the negative space, and sometimes Clifford Styll, as the shapes metamorphosize into semi-organic matter. Obviously, she’s learned the abstract credo well.

But Bachner loves paint and it shows. These are painter’s works. Measured, semi-spontaneous, and alive with color—and it’s her color-voice that speak the loudest. Hers is a palette that ranges from oranges and yellow-reds to magenta, or red and black, violet and reddish-browns, all floating along on canvas and/or synthetic paper.

In “Calaf’s Choice,” Bachner enhances her reputation as a colorist with the addition of some engaging forms, and some deepening of the picture plane. A long, thin aluminum stripe goes from top to bottom, cut in segments by two curved shapes, one crossing the painting from left to right, the other curling tongue-like around the silver shaft. Vertical panels of red and orange hold simplistic drawings, lines, paint drips, water marks (she paints with acrylics) and our attention, as the gravity between the curved forms pulls at the center of the painting, and rivets our gaze to the deepened space behind the stripe.

Along the back wall are two powerful and electric large paintings, the centerpieces to the show. Here the language of the abstract painter is in full flower, as the devices which pull together non-objective shapes are used magically. In the painting on the left, the color changes from violet to red and brown; in the one at right (also untitled), from golden yellow to violet stripes. These works are subtle, warm, and, if not novel, then beautifully executed. The paint’s the thing, the pure art of it.

The artist, who has a bachelor’s degree (Magna Cum Laude) in art history from New York University, divides her time between Manhattan and Bearsville. She’s exhibited locally at the Woodstock Artists Association and Ann Leonard Gallery, and in the city at Metropolitan Café, Open Studios, and in group shows organized by West Side Arts Coalition, Audubon Artists, Graphics Exhibitions and other groups.

— Richard O’Corozine

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