Don Voisine Continues Black Painting Traditions

In search of rational, significant compositions, early on in his career Don Voisine made paintings inspired by the floor plans and architectural features of rooms from his everyday life. As he explains, “It was an attempt to attach a subject matter to abstract shapes.” Delineating doorways and windows, he eventually translated the sketches onto canvas and created solid forms from the rooms’ interiors, distinguishing negative space. When he ran out of meaningful rooms from his life, he turned to architectural theory and practices; in moving his compositions away from specific spaces, he began to define space, instead.

New Haven’s Fred.Giampietro Gallery is showing Voisine’s recent works, his signature, primarily black, hard-edged paintings, which are framed by alternating bands of color. Experimenting with overlapping forms, and matte and shiny paint, Voisine visually challenges viewers to decipher optical ambiguities surrounding figure and ground. In this newest series, using primarily horizontal framing techniques, Voisine’s geometrically sound black voids are punctured by wedges of white, and sandwiched between stripes of color, from bright aqua to deep purple.

“I don’t think my imagery became iconic until I began working with the predominantly black forms, which made a more immediate graphic impression,” Voisine said, explaining his attraction to black forms. He cites the black paintings of some of the most important Minimalists as key influences, including Ad Reinhardt, Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, John McLaughlin, and particularly the “magnificent gigantic black” Clyfford Still at the Art Institute of Chicago. Drawing inspiration from such prominent forebears, Voisine has developed a strong, cohesive body of work that adheres to a classical understanding of abstract art, free from the signifiers of a certain time period or a negative tone that black paintings often attract.

“Don Voisine: New Work” is on view at Fred.Giampietro Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, Jan. 10th–Mar. 1st, 2014

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