Nothing could be more different from James Castle’s stillness than Stanley Goldstein’s robust, affectionate paintings of people at work and play. With confident brushstrokes and sunlight-charged hues, the artist uses traditional means to animate scenes of swimming pools, playgrounds, and a Passover Seder.
In one of several canvases depicting the artist’s family, the brilliant blue of a sunlit curtain contrasts vividly with shadowed skin tones of father and clambering toddler. But the most compelling compositions tend to be the most austere. These include a number of paintings depicting nighttime dance classes viewed through a window.
In “Dancers” (2005), fragments of the intensely preoccupied dancers appear within a grid of window frames and the ballet barre’s rhyming horizontal, while tree trunks twist darkly in the foreground. The separation of these two worlds – warm, busy studio, and the vantage point among cool, serpentine trunks – imparts a remarkable sense of distanced intimacy.
Mr. Goldstein’s colors always convey the vibrant illumination of his subjects, but sometimes not their pictorial weight. The 6-foot-wide “Playground” (2004), for instance, is filled with vital moments – sunlight glowing through a tricycle wheel, or glinting on wind-blown hair. But these effects don’t build from a single color scheme establishing the weight of figures on pavement, and the ground receding into the depths. (Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by poignant gravity of intervals in “Dancers.”)
But the artist is back on track in two scenes of swimming pools, in which compact figures measure out the shimmering, turquoise expanses of water. In these, the swimmers’ exuberant play finds complete expression in vigorous forms and colors.