In 1992, Don Voisine began working with a focused black form surrounded by a border. In 1999, while he introduced the diagonal into his compositions, spatiality became another issue in his paintings. Electing to live inside a circumscribed vocabulary of tough-edged geometric paperwork — rectangles, triangles, parallelograms, and trapezoids — he opened up to the opportunities counseled using contrasting proportions and shade adjustments along the panel’s borders.
I can’t pinpoint the date; the central black form has become blue or crimson. In addition, it breaks up into two planes, with one overlaid by the alternative. Voisine differentiated the aircraft by making one opaque and dense (like a veil of charcoal) and the alternative translucent (like a sheet of smooth, colored glass) in opposition to a white ground. Each color he uses on the border has its material identification.
With each new exhibition, it will become extra apparent that Voisine includes his own earned alternatives to the legacy of geometric abstraction, as hooked up through Piet Mondrian and Kasimir Malevich and extended by using Ad Reinhardt, Barnet Newman, and others. This is no small accomplishment, as it attests to the opportunity for artistic growth via something other than capitalist markers of progress (i.e., non-public branding, advertising, marketing, entrepreneurship, or the use of recent materials and up-to-date tactics).
While some critics and curators might remember what Voisine does as old school, I see its refusal to celebrate entrepreneurship’s penchant for showing its capacity for extra as a dedication to the radical roots of summary portrays. It is why I went to his exhibition, Don Voisine, at McKenzie Fine Art on the Lower East Side the morning after it opened.
There are 17 paintings inside the exhibition, with the most important measuring 40 using 60 inches, and most people range between 12 with the aid of 12 inches and 30 using 24 inches. I had started to think of Voisine’s use of modestly scaled paintings as a critique of an earlier technology’s reliance on massive codecs, which, by the time Frank Stella and Helen Frankenthaler had been well into their careers, became a bit too in sync with the rise of McMansions. What turned into what once seemed heroic and revolutionary started to look like every other form of bragging. Voisine’s hobby in close looking and minute variations amounted to an ethical rejection of signs of wealth and right flavor: he made paintings for residences instead of manors.
The cutting-edge incremental changes that Voisine has made to his paintings contain his use of saturated coloration, specifically vivid yellows and luminous blues, and the staging of his paperwork. A detail of theatricality has entered into the work. By this, I mean that the borders feel, at times, like curtains that have been pulled returned to show abstract bureaucracy interacting to a degree.
Also, the interaction between the focused shape and the border that became a focal point of his in advance paintings unfolded at some end in the image. There are different stress factors, seams, overlays, shifts in hues, and surfaces, running in tightly calibrated, frictional harmony.
I suppose this is Voisine’s contribution to geometric abstraction: the range of variations he launches inside a portrait ideally prompts the viewer to gradually down and emerge as attuned to difference. This reflective searching is the other narcissistic experience of selfies and bright, reflective surfaces. Rather than persevering with the trope of all-over uniformity, Voisine emphasizes the differentiated states of materiality embodied with the aid of the five distinct “zips” that Barnett Newman used to phase off the floor of “Vir Heroicus Sublimis” (1950–51), that’s within the series of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
In “Orange Zip” (2019), which was acrylic and oil on a square panel measuring forty by forty inches, Voisine overlays blue trapezoids within a bounded area framed using creamy white bands. An orange “zip” is wedged between the flanking white bars and the centered, overlaid trapezoids. At the same time, four scumbled gray areas demarcated through the layered blue planes, and the rigid vertical “zips” draw our interest to the corners of the interior, bordered rectangle. Finally, the imperative, semi-obvious blue planes shape a darker blue trapezoid throughout the distance, where they press against every difference.
Does this dark blue trapezoid gesture to an international past, a sublime? Is it a portal or paint-as-paint, or both? Like sentinels status at attention, the ‘zips” in assessment sharply with what lies on both sides of them — the creamy-white bands and the layered spatiality of the overlapping blue trapezoids. The “zips separate one area from any other. The flanking bands characteristic architectonically in addition to theatrically, curtains pulled returned to show the stage. So many distinctive tensions had been put into play.