Curated by Christopher Brown
December 8, 2005 – January 28, 2006
Opening Reception: Thursday, December 8, 6-8pm
The painter Anthony Dubovsky was born in San Diego, California, in 1945. He studied with Willard Midgette at Reed College, and has lived in Eastern Europe, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, and Jerusalem. He teaches at the University of California at Berkeley.
Christopher Brown is a painter who currently lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. He received a BFA from the University of Illinois and an MFA from the University of California at Davis, and he served as a professor at the University of California at Berkeley from 1981-1994, where he first met Anthony Dubovsky. Mr. Brown has received NEA grants in both painting and art criticism as well as awards from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the Equitable and Rockefeller Foundations. He is currently represented by John Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco and Edward Thorp Gallery in New York.
Something about the last paintings in the world. Not an apocalypse, exactly, so much as the recognition that everything now is different. The sureness of Giotto or Masaccio-or Piero-now held up to the light, in a different key. Where the moment-the instant, even- is redeemed through absolute attentiveness...which takes form in each flickering movement of the brush- not towards a goal, but li-shma- for its own sake. In and of itself. How did Kitaj put it- quoting Robert Lowell, quoting Eliot- These fragments I have shored up against my ruin. An offering, a gift even. Thank you.
But I wanted to use the word, love, as well...so, now playing in the background...Chavela Vargas, late in life, her voice smokey, just as Rodolfo promised: Pintor, si pintas con amor...
by Christopher Brown
Delicately scrawled on small squares of cardboard and canvas, Anthony Dubovsky's paintings describe a world of people and places that seems oddly familiar. Their understated, shimmering images seem to move in and out of focus, like memories of the time when and the place where- afloat amid veils of light, atmosphere, and space. In these intimate paintings, almost nothing stands still. Forms hover, light glistens, time- and life- passes by. We know this place; it is where we all live, at the confluence of physical experience and the endless stream of emotion, thought and memory.
Some of the paintings may be diaristic, a kind of visual reportage that finds analogs in the almost daily written observations that Dubovsky sends out to friends in email form, usually with drawings attached. Like the analects, as these communications are called, the cardboard paintings are quotidian "notes to self" that have become, over the years, a memory bank, as it were- studies that sometimes lead toward more complex (though still small) paintings on panels. Other paintings are based on both photographs and his own drawings -Dubovsky has always been a prolific draughtsman- and their imagery varies- portraits mingle with landscapes, dreams hang next to cloud studies, trains, ships, family, musicians, Poland, China- the flotsam of the looked-at life. An inveterate reporter, Dubovsky paints and writes, it seems, as he breathes, ceaselessly, naturally. But what appears ultimately is less a catalog than a kind of proof that life is truly, and almost only, the collection of inconsequential moments made significant by the act of being present, by noticing.
This is not to say that the works appear casual, or their subjects insignificant. In fact, the very opposite is true. As all good painting is an homage to sight- both to the act of seeing and to the things seen- these paintings make the ordinary seem like an eyeful. With their vocabulary of floating moons, liquid skies, fickle gravity, and flickering light, the paintings celebrate seeing as an awareness of the extraordinary nature of the ordinary, rather than the mere act of recognition. Theirs is a beauty of unexpected particularity: of enormous scales and small size, of temperatures and times, and the gestures that surpass detail, of tender rendering amid fields of brushy simplification. In a world of increasing noise these paintings look like overheard whispers. They remind us to look again, more closely.