Art Week Magazine
July/August 2000 (Volume 31, Issue 7/8)
By Sandy Thompson
Stanley Goldstein at Erickson & Elins Gallery
Some say painting, if not in the morgue, certainly lies comatose. To those cynics, I say go see Stanley Goldstein’s current series, “Water and Light”.
Goldstein says his work is about light, about how the world of tangible separate things can be bound together in a fabric of light. Perhaps he says this out of shy regard, thinking light a more profound motivation. But his painting is really about paint. It’s about paint’s primal qualities, not its technological enhancements. It’s about paint’s evocative and evanescent properties. It’s about what paint can be, under the influence of confidence. Goldstein, if nothing else, is a painter whose work at least, reveals a peace with his medium.
Goldstein paints with a few of his predecessors comfortably apparent. In Morning (Baker Beach), for example, there is Boudin who painted coastal images from Honfleur. In Horse Trailer and other countryside landscapes, one can detect Sisley and Pissarro. In Under Water and Kick, there is a homage, though somewhat studied, to Hockney. These references are not, however, in adulation or imitation or even paraphrase, but in recognition that certain painting truths never lose validity. There is the use of the mundane subject, elevated to near metaphorical status. There is the receding diagonal composition — not academically employed, but used to bring the viewer effortlessly into each scene.
Goldstein handles with equal aplomb the spectrum of the figure in landscape associations. And in any combination, one never dominates the picture but serves the other’s best compositional interest. In Red Tug, SF Bay and Conversation, Baker Beach, it is the small, solitary figure against and within a vast landscape backdrop. In Hippie Hill, a few reclining forms in a park, it is the figure of the landscape. In Breaking Waves and Pool Party, it is the small group within a confined but dynamic setting. Goldstein’s paintings — equally effective small (6 by 8 inches) or large (55 by 80 inches) — are honest both in how he manipulates the innate abilities of the paint and how the figure(s) and landscape relate. There is always a sense of human connection — visual, emotional and spatial — between the figures, as in Pool Party, and figures in the landscape, as in Rubicon Bay.
In those images depicting action, one never senses movement stopped or frozen. Each figure, as in Splash, is a single moment interrupted. If these were movie stills, we would intuitively be aware of each preceding, then succeeding frame. This condition is singularly presented in the triptych-like series Blue, Rising Up (the best work in the show), and in Trio, showing three adolescent friends playing in shallow water, their naiveté and unaffectedness never compromised.
To any of the many who paint landscapes in this landscape-infested region, Goldstein’s work is required viewing. His compositions are structured but informal. His brush strokes loose but confident. The pictorial atmosphere is relaxed, the figures within, spontaneous. He uses no artifice to attract our attention; nothing with reflective or translucent potential. Colors are not invented. And though water is indeed a major player, Goldstein does not trick up the wet, nor does he give his water any hyperbolic liquidescence.
Stanley Goldstein – “Water and Light” closed June 15th at the Erickson and Elins Gallery in San Francisco