Thru and ‘Trued’ canvases

Lynne Golob Gelfman installation at Dimensions Variable.

The slightly askew white walls, the unfinished, splotchy concrete floor of Dimensions Variable (a Knight Arts grantee) turns out to be a great backdrop for the five large-scale paintings of Miami-based artist Lynne Golob Gelfman that are currently on display.

There is something topographical about the abstract paintings, most of which are recent work, which make them want to interact with the environment around them, such as the DV space. While there is nothing figurative, the paintings evoke landscapes and urbanscapes — and the relationship between the two. They seem to make a nice fit in the somewhat raw, unpolished downtown space.

The two paintings on the back wall facing the viewer when walking in are the best example. In the one to the right, created from a pattern of repeated, but irregular, squares and triangles in muted color, you can almost picture a blurred aerial photo of a dense center bleeding into a more sparse and barren land.

Trued Surface

“Trued Surface.”

But trying to overlay distinct imagery on basically abstract compositions is always a tricky thing. One can pull out very different impressions depending on how you view it. Understanding an artist’s background and artmaking is important — for instance Gelfman has long been interested in the varied environments of lands from the North African desert to the shallow waters of Biscayne Bay, and of the textiles and crafts from Africa to Colombia. That informs the work to a certain extent. But in the end, the paintings are really about movement and flow. About, as she points out, the art of mark making. Marks can be left by nature and by man, but they are discreet and often indiscernible, more like suggestions of things rather than a concrete reproduction or narrative.

The somewhat blurred and muffled shapes and colors in these paintings, says Gelfman, also reflect the bleached out light that we get here in Miami. In order to achieve this, she reversed the canvases; we are seeing the “backside.” Like a piece of fabric or clothing, the back-side often appears more washed out. But we are also being allowed to “look through” these paintings, like we might look at the world through the specific light of a time of day, or of a particular climate. In fact the one older painting in the exhibit from 1978 was part of her initial exploration of grid and light here in Miami, called the “thru” series (another one is currently showing at the newly opened PAMM). The others here are a continuation, for this grouping titled “Trued Surface.” But no need to read to much into these, see them for the experiential nature of them, for the movement, the markings, the truly abstract nature of the world around us.

“Trued Surface — Lynne Golob Gelfman” runs through Feb. 23, open by appointment and First Fridays, with a closing on Feb. 23, at Dimensions Variable, 100 N.E. 11th St., Miami; 305-607-5527;