Sarah Esme Harrison and Matt Reiner were both students at Yale in the past few years. Harrison began making what she refers to as “wedges” before graduate school. A wedge is a vertical painting with top edge close to the wall. The surface tilts out toward the lower edge, so that the bottom edge of the painting is approximately five inches away from the wall. The flat face of the painting is tilted at an angle not unlike a drafting table or a hill one is beginning to climb.
Reiner is building very thin surfaces on which to paint. A glance produces the impression that large squares have been removed from the four corners of the painting, leaving a bilaterally symmetrical cross. The perception of surface being removed is suggested, perhaps, by the painted image on the form, giving an impression of a cut photograph.
Sarah depicts wrought iron gates on the surface of her wedges. These images of curving metal cover the landscapes beneath, offering pictorial spacing and structure to the formal object. The paintings also, perhaps before anything else, suggest a psychological twist on Greenberg’s credo of flatness. The paintings might be saying “keep out” or “private.”
Reiner’s oil paintings, of wide open landscapes, big skies, geometric forms, and flowers, are spatially seductive. Within the narrow horizontal and vertical bands, glimpses of deep space are jump cut with luscious close-ups. The wall is a strong participant in the composition, pressing against the viewers’ ease of entry.
We are working right now at a residency in central Italy, in a medieval village-castle. The landscape here is decisively shaped by the architecture. Coming around a corner, one views a slice of distant farmland through stone walls. At the moment we are sitting outside the castle walls; twenty foot tall sloping stone surfaces spotted with lichen, moss and weeds. We are discussing Sarah’s wedge paintings, puzzling over their curious form. Fox suggests a book displayed in a case, or a climbing wall. We agree that the wide base makes a form feel more stable. Fox puns on the horse and stable, again conjuring the angles of open barn doors, and we imagine the weight of opening a sloping door.
Both Harrison and Reiner are heavy readers. The allusion to a book, a gate or a wall provokes us to dwell in the question of privacy; of the space of the mind. The cross and wedge offer a formal dialectics with the hand painted imagery. This dialectics slows the reading down, makes a space; the liminal location where a viewer might stand.
We bought our large victorian house from the Isabella Friedman Collective (a Jewish communal organization in Lakeville, CT.) The house had been gifted to them a few years before, by the Beit Havurah commune, after being collectively owned for over forty years. The commune was founded in 1975. The casual organization of a small group of young Jewish lawyers and professionals from NYC and Boston is not necessarily an historic utopian experiment, but it was meaningful enough for us to think we were doing something other than just property acquisition. This exhibition is our first on the third floor of our house, and is part of the programming for Greenwoods 2058, the artist residency program we started in 2021.