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Installation view of Ron Gorchov: Spice of Life

Installation view of Ron Gorchov, Spice of Life, Vito Schnabel Gallery, New York (Artworks © Ron Gorchov / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Photo by Argenis Apolinario; Courtesy Vito Schnabel Gallery)

Gorchov is an artist whose best pieces are purely aesthetic and totally present, here and now.

Without using any explicit imagery, and without any recognizable allusions to art’s history, Ron Gorchov’s abstractions merge intense color and brilliantly original compositions. He is a major New York artist who only late in life became celebrated. And two concurrent Chelsea shows offer marvelously complimentary pictures of his development. Ron Gorchov: Spice of Life at Vito Schnabel Gallery conveys, on two floors, the story of Gorchov’s identification of his mature style. “Set” (1971), which is 14 feet tall, is a stack of four sprawling, shaped monochrome canvases. It is an oddly gawky work that resembles a classic Ellsworth Kelly gone bad. “Untitled” (1976–77) is an early version of Gorchov’s more recent format, its graceful shapes, much slimmer than those usual in the newer paintings, set on a curved canvas. And “6th One” (2006) features four yellow rectangles with rounded edges, two of which are vertical keyhole shapes that insert color into the ground, as in Gorchov’s later works, and two are horizontal (and, at least in retrospect, appear redundant). His paintings work best, he discovered, when the two color inserts are roughly the same size, as in “Spice of Life” (1976), a good example of his later signature style. The show demonstrates how, by stages, in some cases making works that are less than fully successful, Gorchov moved toward his late, glorious resolution. 

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