Ken Greenleaf's Show Reviewed in the Wall Street Journal
December 20, 2014 - Peter Plagens
Ken Greenleaf : Recent Work
530 W. 24th St., (212) 924-2178
Through Jan. 3
In 1983, a Hoboken, N.J., studio fire destroyed a lot of the imposing abstract sculpture of Ken Greenleaf (b. 1945). Subsequently, he left the New York art world and went to Maine. During the 1990s and well into the first decade of this century, Mr. Greenleaf concentrated on writing exhibition reviews, but in 2007 he returned to making art.
Mr. Greenleaf’s earlier work had been composed of large steel plates, and partook of some of the best formalist qualities of Anthony Caro ’s and Mark di Suvero ’s sculpture. His current exhibition, though of much smaller and more modest work, continues his rigorously abstract ways.
The paintings—or relief sculptures, depending on how you regard them—consist of small, flat, one-color triangles, trapezoids and other straightedge shapes, adjacent to one another, mounted on the wall with a slight float. The drawings in the show are also small, with thick, slightly messy charcoal lines rearranged with the help of cutting and repositioning pieces of paper.
The exhibition’s modesty and its adherence to an aesthetic that the current art world has largely consigned to the files of “Been there, done that” shouldn’t be off-putting. Mr. Greenleaf’s recent work radiates sincerity, and not the cheap, sentimental kind. He means what he says in these gritty drawings and carefully calibrated paintings, and the show is worth seeing.
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