Magazine article Artforum International

Andrea Belag

Magazine article Artforum International

Andrea Belag

Article excerpt

RICHARD ANDERSON FINE ARTS

Broad horizontal stripes, alternately light and dark and predominantly in blue, earth tones, and white, dominate most of Andrea Belag's recent paintings. The colors seem to have been imprinted in thin, variable layers on the canvas rathe than painted on directly. Though, admittedly, the surfaces of Belag's paintings may recall faded jeans, in strictly artistic terms they bring to mind the sobriety and reflective self-effacement associated with a tradition that stretches from the late work of Cezanne to the early work of Brice Marden--work in which the space of naturalistic perception is crossed with a direct experience of the painting as physical object.

Placed within these fields of stripes are dark, irregularly oblong shapes that might be any number of things but that finally demand to be seen as battered shoes. So these are not exactly abstract stripe paintings; they are also depictions of abandoned shoes on stone stairways. We needn't ask to whom these shoes belong; they too immediately recall (though with welcome reticence) the mass tragedies of our century. Though these are no more specifically the shoes of those gassed at Nazi death camps than the stairs need be those of the Odessa steps in Eisenstein's Potemkin, 1925, the pathos of a shoe separated from its wearer is akin to that of a body separated from the life that animated it. In

the history of painting, these shoes inevitably echo those of van Gogh, to whic the words of Martin Heidegger--"In the shoes vibrates the silent call of the earth"--have attached themselves, however ironic the citation of a philosopher who did not resist the lure of Nazi ideology may seem in this context. …

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