Shout, October 2000, p.14.
Mark Kostabi on Jonathan Feldschuh
I get credit for being the first writer to publish a text about
Jonathan Feldschuh's first one-person show in New York. Hundreds of other
serious writers will follow my lead over the next decade.
Aside from being a great painter, Feldschuh benefits from being part of
a bonafide "tendency" in contemporary painting, a shared sensibility that
involves discovering and defining surreal biomorphic forms in spontaneous
abstract underpaintings. The other members of this tendency include Inka
Essenhigh and Giles Lyon, and I have been seeing art students in Rome
follow suit for a few years now.
Many of us in the downtown art scene have known about Feldschuh and his
fantastical sci-fi, creepy canvases that at once recall Roger Dean's Yes
album covers as well as Egon Schiele's sinuous, stylized muscle-and-bone
line work, and we were surprised that he was not picked up sooner by a
Chelsea gallery. Finally, during her first studio visit, perceptive and
alert gallerist Cynthia Broan immediately signed him up and urgently
scheduled the present exhibition. I've visited Feldschuh's Tribeca studio
twice and recently had lunch with him at Lotus Club (on the corner of
Clinton and Stanton, which is, incidentally, always well stocked with
copies of Shout and is also frequented by Inka Essenhigh). He gave me a
two-minute Tai Chi demonstration and explained the difference between
Eastern and Western thought: "In the West they say: 'I think, therefore I
am.' In the East they say: 'I think I am.'"
Feldschuh graduated from Harvard University, summa cum laude in
physics, and with a minor in visual and environment studies. This unusual
and impressive educational background (for an artist), combined with his
studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (where he gets his Schiele
line), makes one ponder the possibility that science plays a major role in
his inspiration and might explain why his imagery sometimes looks like
cell and lab specimens suspended in formaldehyde.
At the beginning of its creation, a Jonathan Feldschuh painting looks
like a competent Abstract Expressionist painting, replete with drips and
calligraphic gestures. By the time he painstakingly renders selected drips
with pencil or ballpoint pen and seals them with a clear, shiny acrylic
gel-medium, we are faced with a magnificent orchestration of bulbous, bony
and muscular forms that surprisingly evoke both the subtle complexity and
coloration of a Tiepolo ceiling fresco and the cartoon-like playfulness of
a Dr. Seuss drawing.
Cynthia Broan Gallery, 423 W. 14th St., 212-633-6525
Sept. 28 – Nov. 4, 2000