Expressionism, Surrealism, and Abstraction Prevail at Mark Gallery

Emily Nathan
Nov 10, 2014 10:30PM

Based in Englewood, New Jersey, Mark Gallery is celebrated both for its support of contemporary art’s hyperrealist masters, and for the range of abstract practitioners it represents. Reaching across mediums and disciplines to encompass work in oils, mixed media, photography, and sculpture, the gallery’s roster includes the likes of Alberto Murillo, Allison Stewart, and Jeffrey Maron, among many others. 

Although Michigan-native Rick Stevens associates himself with the history of landscape painting, his small mixed-media compositions seem to chart universes that are only partially of this world. Scenes of naturalistic imagery—a birch tree’s frail stem, reaching toward the sun in Chasing the Dawn; the shimmering flicker of a leaf, turning in the wind—dissolve into gentle pools of light that filter down toward earth from the lofty heights. In palette, his works recall the delicately calibrated earth hues of Pierre Bonnard, while the shivering touch and gem-like surface patterns produced in (23-11) and Under the August Sun draw on the legacy of the Viennese Expressionists, primary among them Gustav Klimt.

Joost de Jonge, meanwhile, veers toward the mystical. In his Pop-art vibrant paintings, mostly small-scale oils on canvas, anthropomorphic forms mingle like strange creatures against psychedelic expanses of color, recalling the playful whimsy of Joan Miró or Yves Tanguy’s surreal personifications. De Jonge’s forms are more organic that futuristic, however: recurring motifs include striated, coiled tubes, pulsing eggs, and flesh-tinted ovoids—all of which evoke some primordial topography. Another gallery artist, Carolyn Cole, engages the history of Color Field painting with her bright, ordered geometries. Organized according to color and executed in rough, brushy strokes, they recall Richard Diebenkorn’s atmospheric seascapes. But rather than chart existing geographies, Cole’s compositions exist in a more mitochondrial state: the patches of quilt in an ambiguous stage of creation, both becoming and falling apart at once.

Emily Nathan