by Nick Berkow

The painterly activity of Neil Kerman, while appearing at first to be essentially abstract in character, is not so much actualized within the spontaneous moment as much as it is allowed to evolve, palimpsest-like, through a series of time-based operations whose effects appear to the beholder incrementally. The sensation of time and space felt and experienced is paramount

The artist’s application of acrylic paint in his series exhibited at Artifact, New York, is aided and abetted by a variety of stylistic effects. They include gravity-induced spills as well as washes and layering. The later draws our attention to the pictorial depth that attains a type of energized, near-cosmic aura.

The end result is painting that participates in what could be defined as avoidance-pattern routine. This means that the work is purposefully and positively ambiguous. It wanders between an emphasis on material trace over painterly activity and unified image over expressive detail (à la Clement Greenberg’s definition of “American type painting”) or its opposite (redux Harold Rosenberg). What is at work here is art at an elevated level that is both pronounced and nuanced, work which fulfills the demands of painting to be self-critically aware of its own codes of presentation and representation.

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