Mark Sheinkman at Von Lintel

Mark Sheinkman, Elton, New Paintings 2019, Von Lintel Gallery; Image courtesy of the gallery

Mark Sheinkman New Paintings 2019

Von Lintel Gallery, Los Angeles
through October 19

Written by Jenny Begun
On September 7th, Von Lintel Gallery opened its first solo show after moving recently to its new location in the Bendix Building, one of the art hubs of Downtown Los Angeles. This is the 13th solo exhibition for the artist, Mark Sheinkman, who has had a 22-year history with the gallery. Born in New York, Mr. Sheinkman still lives and works in the city that most certainly galvanizes his artwork.

The paintings in the show range from small (18” x 14”) to large (52” x 72”), but all have an equally strong impact. The energy present in the room is almost tangible. As the oil lines dance, and twist, and interlace into some complex dynamic configurations, they seem to exist in the spaces between the off-white surfaces of the paintings’ backgrounds and us, the viewers.

According to the artist, different people see different things in his work. Often the associations are scientific. Some see a protein molecule looking at “Elton”, others DNA, or wooden barricades, like in “Auburn”. My father who is a Radio Communications Engineer told me he saw a bunch of twisted wires that needed to be connected for a rocket to launch. Mr. Sheinkman’s signature black and white graphite drawings were compared to wafts of smoke. An extraordinary example of his black and white period–“Luquer”–hangs in the gallery’s office.

Because visual associations are almost always personal, it’s easy to develop a relationship with these paintings and, like in any strong relationship, to see something new every day. “It’s a bad painting when there is only one reading,” says Mr. Sheinkman. He adds that it’s a risk going to the studio every day. The artist works freehand, without a plan. According to him, depth and movement come later by creating a contrast between light and dark or blending the edges. These effects are achieved by simple techniques: erasing the graphite or wiping away the paint and then adding more layers. To limit the number of his tools–graphite or oil, erasers or rugs–is a conscious choice. “By reducing his options, he was able to access more possibilities,” says Tarrah von Lintel.

For years, Mr. Sheinkman has been playing with the relationship between the figure and the background, giving the tangle of lines their own life or blurring them back into the background. “In much of the earlier black and white paintings and works on paper, there was often less of a distinction between figure and ground, and more of an all over compositional structure … straight lines eroded and degraded by erasure. Starting in the mid-2000’s, the work shifted towards a more clear distinction between figure and ground and away from allover composition.”

In addition to his continuing exploration of spacial relationships within his compositions, Mr. Sheinkman has been experimenting with color. Though almost for two decades he chose not to exhibit these works. After 2001, the artist decided to work only with black and white and that is the work that is most familiar to many people. “The early experiments with color started in 2000 with a show of oil on paper works at the Lannan Foundation in Santa Fe, then continued with a show of both oil on paper and oil on canvas works at Von Lintel Gallery in New York.”

The current exhibition has a lot of color and the combinations of hues are electrifying. After such a long break and working in greyscale for many years, there appears to be a huge shift in Mr. Sheinkman’s work. “What has been particularly gratifying,” says the artist, “is that almost everyone I have spoken to about my newest color work has described it as being different because of the color, but clearly and recognizably my own.”

Von Lintel Gallery
1206 Maple Avenue # 212, Los Angeles, 90015

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