This year there has been a series of shows that featured Op Art from the 60’s and most of them were Italians or Americans who spent time in Italy. FLOWERS Gallery presented the works of Michael Kidner (1917-2009) who was named by an American art critic as “the first Op artist of Britain”. The works on paper shown for the first time in New York City ranged from the 1960’s to the 2000’s.
The larger works from his last series in the 2000’s were visual pops of color and shapes that pulsated in a great kaleidoscope done by colored pencils. To make renderings in pencil look so rich and fluid like it was fabric is no small feat. You can feel the years of technical dexterity and acute detail work. Kidner has built his career on not merely shapes and color alone but the most valuable of all assets: unbridled creativity. A lifetime of work exploding into a visual feast that is marvelous to behold.
At the front room were the smaller oil / pastel works of the 1960’s which were the stark beginnings of circles and lines that were hallmarks of the Op Art wave. Distinct color fields with the stack or rows of geometric lines or sliced up circles alternately played off each other. This was the budding genome of what Kidner would elaborate on as the years went by.
Why is there an interest now in Op Art? After several seasons of deconstructed work that is decaying or blurred. the pendulum has swung back to the direction of clean rendered and exact pedantic rhythms. As the times have been indeed chaotic with the Brexit (British exit from the EU), the recent tragedy in Nice, and the local climate here in America where we now are barraged with shootings of private citizens and police coupled with a very controversial Presidential race – that a semblance of order and pattern is refreshing at this time.
Note that I stated a semblance not an accurate line them up like ducks sense of order. Although there is a pattern and rhythm in the work of Kidner there lies a levity and spontaneity that is simmering underneath but when it comes to a boil, the result is explosive visually and a soothing broth to digest. One can most definitely say that Kidner is good for the soul.
Michael Kidner: Works on Paper
Exhibition Dates: July 21 – August 27, 2016
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday (10 am to 6 pm)
FLOWERS. 529 West 20th Street. NYC, NY 10011
Art Review by Oscar A. Laluyan
Photographs provided by the gallery