Geometry Lessons On Orange Street

Don VoisineThose of you whose math careers peaked in geometry—with reliable theorems offered a degree of predictability in an otherwise uncertain teenage world—might find a new show of strangely animate and hard-to-pin down rectangles and parallelograms on Orange Street a tad disconcerting.

The show, at Fred Giampietro’s 91 Orange Street Gallery, features the newest oil paintings by Don Voisine. The show, which features 18 mostly small works, all oil on wood panel, runs through March 1.

It’s probably wise to leave the protractors at home.

Giampietro has placed a work called “Keyhole” appropriately enough at the entryway to the bright white gallery, itself one long unfurnitured rectangle,,so that the piece and the space seem nicely married and at first glance sedate.

But for solid shapes there’s a whole lot of rocking and rolling going on in these compositions.

As with “Keyhole,” the apparent unhappiness of these rectangles and parallelograms and other straight-edged shaped panels, with their own identity or solidity, draws the view in.

The way the painter has arrayed the lines, planes, and colors create an animate quality, so that if you kept looking at them long enough you might be able to spy the tiniest tectonic shift.

A whole lot of Minimalist influences run through these paintings—from Malevich to Ad Reinhardt.

All but one of these pieces have titles, and they are lively: “Flicker,” “Passerby,” “Stand In,” “Leaf,” and “Zed,” among others.

Maybe I am being too literal, but it feels as if the geometry is somehow trying to be become something else, perhaps letters in the alphabet, or parts of locks, or byways viewed from above in the dark of night, while of course remaining abstract at the same time. It’s a nifty trick to be what you are and different all at the same time.

The lively quality of the geometry is achieved also by the different sheens and shades Voisine is able to evoke from a predominately black and grey palette. 

Allan Appel PhotoWhen he pairs works, such as “Crossroads” and “Untitled” (pictured), you can see the difference it makes to lay a grey rectangle smack dab in the intersection of two black rectangles—or are they roads in a dark Robert Frost poem?

When the rectangle nudges out of the intersection, the combined effect of the color and shape is utterly different.

I sound a little crazy to myself writing this because I enter a minimalist space with a “show me” attitude and can be easily bored by the repetitions involved—if there’s a danger in the show it’s precisely this—but I left a believer.

Meditating on the large shifts such tiny geometric changes can effect is one of the pleasures of this exhibition.

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