Magazine article Artforum International

Warren Isensee

Magazine article Artforum International

Warren Isensee

Article excerpt

AUDIELLO FINE ART, INC.

Warren Isensee's paintings draw on his memories of domesticated modernism. Evoking the interior color schemes and the bright prints of '60s and '70s suburban TV rooms (with Marimekko-patterned draperies and kidney-shaped coffee tables) and kitchens (with their boomerang-motif Formica countertops), Isensee's canvases are rendered in flat decorator hues: unsaturated blues and greens, apricot, chocolate brown, powdery pink. Structured on a system of reversals, in which opaque solids abut outlined open forms and mingle with loopy ribbons of color, the works are conceived with the thoughtful, almost mathematical attention to theme and color variation found in Ray Eames's cross-patch-design fabrics: yellow next to blue, but never touching red, etc.

The impersonal and flawless exactitude of Isensee's technique is, unexpectedly, achieved freehand, with brushes and without the aid of tape. That this precision renders quasi-geometric, even almost organic forms is also surprising. Isensee's favored shapes are irregular, egglike ovals resembling hard candies or smooth stones. In the bubblelike I and I, 2000, these ellipses are regions in which to explore slight variations in shades of orange; while in Faith Value, 2000, they suggest backyard patio stones or tiles at the bottom of a swimming pool. (The painting's vaguely cruciform composition also hints at Christian symbolism, though Isensee seems uninterested in the mystical aspects of abstraction.) In such works, the forms crowd close together, but each oval remains isolated; in others, looping lines create spaces that are less discrete. …

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