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Ron Gorchov

Phaethon, 2015
Oil on linen
15h x 16 1/2w x 5 1/4d in
© Ron Gorchov; Photo by Argenis Apolinario; Courtesy the artist and Vito Schnabel Gallery


Ron Gorchov has been making paintings on convex saddle shapes for nearly four decades. The forms that result are both optical and mysterious. For Gorchov, these paintings are iconic signifiers of the post-formalist 70s in that they explore an irregular surface – not rectangular – that defiantly plays with abstract figure-to-ground relationships in painting. One might argue that Gorchov rejected the status of finality given to the allover surface. His shapes are linear, as in "Noli Me Tangere" (2011), yet also volumetric, as in "Erato" (2012). In either case, he resists the hard-edge geometric approach, and instead, advocates the biomorphic. They are neither Surrealist in their conception, like those of Hans Arp, nor arial suspensions as in the work of Alexandre Calder. While they are part of the same family, the forms are not sculpture. Rather they conflate in a manner densely flat over thinly painted fields. Beneath these bifurcated, split-zygote forms, a highly articulated surface evolves, often with light dribbles of paint, streams of wet pigment that have wriggled through the surface and dried in place. "Chase Street Lounge" (2011) is painted in oil on linen with two-biomorphic in bright cadmium red that hover against a gray field that paradoxically appears solid. They hold an obdurate presence, which is nearly indefinable. A related painting, "La Piva" (2012), also has linen stretched over wood, but this time instead of two cadmium red shapes, one is red and the other is black. The saddle shape is less vertical in shape and more horizontal. One may ask why the emphasis on the vertical and horizontal aspects of the format of the painterly field in relation to these biomorphic shapes is so important. Why have they become a signature in Gorchov’s painting? This is not an easy question, but I have a few speculations as to why this might be case.

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