Bill Komoski

New York

at Feature


Bill Komoski’s recent work exemplifies one of several approaches being employed today to generate new abstract paintings. That approach is to superimpose or layer different variations of the grid and riff on the resulting—usually random—intersections among them. The most obvious example is the quasi-mathematical “informational overload” used by Terry Winters in the recent past. Komoski’s version involves curvilinear networks resembling biological structures—circulatory systems, or cells and tissues—or that evoke intergalactic energy patterns. Though he eschews the look of digital art in favor of a more painterly appearance, one suspects that, in its simultaneous presentation of diverse information, his work wouldn’t be possible without the digital realm, if only indirectly.

This exhibition consisted of five big paintings (the two largest nearly 8 feet high), a wall drawing, and 20 or so smaller paintings (measuring between 19 and 30 inches on their longer side). The paintings are acrylic on canvas and are all titled for the date they were completed. Komoski’s procedure is best deciphered in the small paintings, the most recent of which are vividly colored and in several instances incorporate papier-mâché and polyurethane foam. One of the smaller works, 1/24/10 (26 by 22 inches) begins with a loaded brush pattern resembling waves or a marbleized lava flow in red, yellow, black and white. All four colors seem to be contained in one swirling, viscous stroke. Over this is a grisaille pattern that looks like a template perforated with circles. Then there is a layer of intersecting diagonal lines in tones of gray, and finally a network of curving thinner lines (rather in the manner of Brice Marden’s ambling marks) in black and white. Color from one layer to the next either consists of related hues or turns tonally the opposite, which confounds a reading of the order or location (in space) of the compositional elements. The paintings demand of the viewer a high-speed visual workout that feels fugal and dangerous.

One of Komoski’s favored devices is a color-wheel-like arrangement of wedges (in a circle or portion thereof) painted either in shades of gray or in variations of one or several colors. This can show up behind or interrupt the layers, lending a Newtonian, prismatic air to the works. The layers of the perforation pattern in 3/11/10 (26 by 23 inches), painted in high-temperature shades of orange, red and yellow as well as black and white, seem to have combusted or succumbed to a viral glitch. A charred-looking carbon-black crater made of applied papier-mâché occupies the central portion of the painting like a wound. The large canvases (all 2007 and 2008), though beautiful, are painted in a mid- to pale range and lack the dynamism of the smaller works. They feel more like art as we know it, rather than mad science.

Photo: Bill Komoski: 3/11/10, 2010, acrylic and papier-mâché on canvas, 26 by 23 inches; at Feature.