Don Voisine at Gregory Lind Gallery

Don Voisine. <em>Flare</em>, 2009 Oil on wood 20 x 20 in. Courtesy Gregory Lind Gallery.

Don Voisine. Flare, 2009 Oil on wood 20 x 20 in. Courtesy Gregory Lind Gallery.

Sometimes you go to a show that makes you feel better because someone made some paintings that are not too proud of themselves but as respectful as possible of the complexity and difficulty of our little lives. Don Voisine’s paintings at Gregory Lind in San Francisco are at first glance pretty straight traditional abstract paintings. Taped edges, worked-out space, properly applied paint, the whole thing. If you look longer you can see that they come from a familiar painting tradition yet eat everything. And he has a sense of humor.

All of the paintings are dominated by a gaping black maw in the middle, which can be kind of scary. There is movement between the paintings though, since each each gaping black void/truckload of darkness is enclosed a bit differently. So you feel a tidal slosh or a turning. This keeps them from being monolithic or gothy.

Cheery pink stripes are tucked in alongside the important slabs of black and super dark blue. Fun illusionary space tricks, which may not be strictly kosher in this kind of painting, let us play with side ledges that turn into windowsills or receding wall bits. Also, the bright colors around the edges, all custom mixed, are bright in a contemporary way without feeling too purchasable or ingratiating. How does he do it? He told the The Brooklyn Rail, “I like my formalism a little dirty.”

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