Frieze | New York | Main Galleries | Stand D41 (at the South entrance)
Alexander Gray Associates presened paintings and drawings by Jack Tworkov (b.1900, Biala, Poland – d.1982, Provincetown, MA), charting the evolution of the artist’s career from gestural abstract expressionism in the 1950s to a conceptual approach to geometric abstraction beginning in the late 1960s and 1970s. Together, the selection of works highlighted Tworkov’s adept balance between structure and spontaneity to underscore the potential of experimental form in painting.
Central to the presentation was Triptych (Q3-75 #1), 1975, a monumental painting—18 feet long—shown for the first time in New York since the artist’s 1982 survey at the Guggenheim Museum, Jack Tworkov: Fifteen Years of Painting. Recalling the artist’s early abstract expressionist work, the underpainting is dense with Tworkov’s signature flame-like brushstrokes that are covered with a precisely rendered geometric grid of rectangles. Each overlapping grid contains repetitive, controlled marks in pink and purple hues that are, as art critic Andrew Forge noted “small enough to provide a completely unified surface, open enough to be transparent, and vigorous enough to set up a faint background vibration.”
Accompanying Triptych (Q3-75 #1) were its three preparatory sketches and an earlier painting from 1973, Pyramid (Q3-71-3), emblematic of Tworkov’s exploration of both structure and improvisation. With an underdrawing compositionally structured to situate the viewer at the apex of a pyramid, Tworkov creates the illusion of depth on the canvas while also emphasizing its inherent flatness through consistent brushstrokes. Unlike the more structured drawings, the painting’s loose, but regulated mark-making reveals the artist’s experimentation with planar illusion and geometric form, representing his belief that “planning does not exclude intuitive and sometimes random play.”
Also on view were a curated selection of works on paper, spanning from the 1950s to the 1980s, which demonstrate the stylistic changes in Tworkov’s oeuvre. Related to “West 23rd", c. 1963, exemplifies Tworkov’s gestural handling of watercolor, creating a work populated with saturated blue and yellow tones punctuated by dark, regular parallel lines. Graphite markings, visible among the layers of pigment, disrupt the composition, intersecting the painted strokes. In L.B. Pencil Drawing #2, 1979, Tworkov relied instead on geometry, dividing the plane into a grid and incising various shapes onto the two-dimensional surface. The irregular shapes are filled with repetitive and regimented graphite marks while the two large rectangles are left unfilled, displaying the remnants of the imposed grid system.
About Frieze New York
Frieze New York is one of the world's leading contemporary art fairs. Like Frieze London, Frieze New York is housed in a bespoke temporary structure, suffused with natural light. The fair is located in Randall’s Island Park, NY.