REVIEWS

Art Reviews

This review is excerpted from: James Kalm/The Brooklyn Rail: 11/25/05
   Geoffrey Dorfman: Recent Work/The Painting Center, 52 Greene St. NYC
 Paint, the essence of paint, the substance of paint, the materiality of paint, the culture of paint. Geoffrey Dorfman is an artist who has spent the better part of the last three and a half decades immersed in the implications of what it means to be painting now.  He’s an artist for whom the flame of the Abstract Expressionists and the New York School still burns hot. These are paintings about painting. There are no ironies, no clever theories, and no subversive aesthetic gambits. The discussion of these paintings requires one to use the language of painting inasmuch as reference to other things would be mere allusion. A few other painters  working today like Scott Richter or Geoff Davis have developed a kind of flatfooted pragmatism that makes use of paint as a quasi-sculptural medium focusing on its mass, its chunkiness, and the bravado of a glob of paint. Dorfman conversely is also committed to the notion of the classic brush stroke, the sensual rebound and multitude of responses possible with bristles rubbing on canvas.
For any artist working as long as Dorfman has it’s a constant challenge to avoid formula, to try to keep their facility from becoming a limitation. “If the paint starts to look like something other than paint, like sky or water, I change it,” he stated. The pictures seem to be constructed out of a negation of anticipated action, a struggle to maintain the creative momentum by proceeding in the most unexpected rather than expected ways. To work, this requires in almost a hyper-conscious state, being aware of the precedents that should be avoided while continuing to construct the picture with a coherence of composition and chromatic design. Ironically these painted negations or erasures have the opposite action from philosophic or rhetorical negation. In the painted case they are objects of suggestive potential… With the rapid proliferation of media available to artists today, the privileged position that painting once held is no longer dominant. It is however fascinating to ponder the anthropological and cultural relationships one can have with a 50,000 year old tradition that just aren’t available to someone working within a ten — forty year tradition. For Geoffrey Dorfman this relationship to painting is a direct inheritance from the New York School. For the spectator, it’s an opportunity to observe a journeyman practitioner facing the trepidation and adventure of maintaining a vision while he pushes into the future.

 

This review is excerpted from: Joseph Walentini/AbstractArtOnline: 3/14/02
   Geoffrey Dorfman: The Monotypes/The Painting Center, 52 Greene St. NYC
This gem of a show is hung in the small back room of the gallery. These prints serve as small windows into somber realities. They are like familiar - though undefined - landscapes that combine a generalized sense of mood and place. The effect is such that the work is imbued with a romantic sensibility that obliquely hearkens back to the palette and disposition of a Singer-Sargent painting. What makes these pieces interesting is that even as they suggest historical painting, they hold their own as contemporary abstraction, which provides an easy entry point to understanding their content…Although the color pieces initially grab your attention, the black and white holds its own in the show. Here, with color absented, you find yourself freer to regard the complexities of form and especially texture. The delicacy evident in the color is even more pronounced here. They conjure the quality of carefully rendered etchings from a past century but counter this with what appears to be random gesture. Dorfman is masterful at getting this balance just right. He picks up on the sensitivity offered by the medium, whether employing color or not, and combines this with an arbitrary but controlled placement. In other words, he sets the forms and materials in motion, mindful of placement and density. But he also lets the control slip just enough to let each piece discover its own uniqueness and sense of place.
These prints express a very personal aesthetic without smacking of the ‘school of the personal.’  Everyone seeing this show is able to walk away from it with an individually valid reaction and interpretation. It is in this notion that the artist additionally finds content, in the ability to combine the personal with a universal appeal. Such a thing is always difficult to pull off but even more so given the constraints of the medium. In lesser hands, such an approach would easily lapse into serialism and a resulting visual ennui. But Dorfman keeps it fresh, unique, and interesting from one print to another. In the end, the body of work itself serves as a comprehensive statement in addition to what each individual piece expresses.

 

 This review is excerpted from: Addison Parks, Arts Magazine: 4/81
   Geoffrey Dorfman: Oscarsson-Hood, 41 w. 57th St., New York, NY.
…Through this single initial color statement comes the more subtle but more intensely fired and primary color narrative. Here trails of chroma flash like hallucinations. These aesthetic experiences occur beyond the surface of the painting, in the space in front of the plane in which the paint is being worked. The surface is difficult to ignore, as the light catches the texture and produces small pocks of shadow in the paint surface.  Texture is one of the first things we recognize about these paintings: it is thick and physical, yet texture is not an important issue; instead it is a byproduct of the struggle. Dorfman does not court surface, and the paintings demonstrate a concern for an aesthetic experience that is superior to the physicality of the object. Nonetheless, in an effort to achieve the broadest range of quality — emotional, spiritual, and visual — Dorfman employs marks that can be hard, raw, fast, long rigid, tight and shiny. Or soft, smooth, slow, short, loose, dispersed or dry. All this makes for exciting paint on even the more decadent, sensual level.
Although this work makes no attempt to be appealing, this is not to say it cannot. Instead it opens the door to an adventure, leaving it up to us to take the rise. If we don’t, it leaves without us,..