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September 19th, 2008


by Jo Panisch


In an era where art can no longer be categorized in movements (see By Eleanor Heartney’s “The Visual Arts: Blurring the Boundaries”), Ms. Aleksandra Nowak’s collection at CFM Gallery is a refreshing throwback to a classic medium and timeless temperament.

Nowak’s collection of oils view like a chapter of “Great Expectations.” I mean that as a compliment. Her collection features portraits of subjects dressed in 19th century garments of pale colors and antiquated blouses. They are positioned as one would picture them to exist ordinarily, not posed or dramatized. However there is nothing commonplace about them. With acuity, Nowak uses their candidness to reveal their truest nature and honest dispositions.


The individual pieces do not establish a story and her subjects aren’t posed in a moment of trial or desperation, yet struggle is evident from the looks on their faces. The dated garb actually has a reverse impact, accentuating the subject’s humanity. It’s as if the fixed period is juxtaposed by the redolent expressions creating a timeless feel. Nowak captures the most telling gestures- a pursed jaw, slouched shoulders, rigid fingers- and adorns them flawlessly with all the other qualities that define a person. Her portraits intuitively feel like someone you know, almost suggesting that we are fated by our physicality. Or if not fated, then ciphered with details of our character printed on our bodies. If only we knew how to decode it.

Muted palettes and rolling strokes create a sensation that undulates between dreamlike and dreary. Included in the collection are paintings of flowers and landscapes adding to the foreordained tone.

“The Bow”

Ultimately Novak’s collection demonstrates the power of subtlety. The simplicity of her pieces multiplies their evocations. In an era where avant garde can no longer exist because it’s too familiar and suspended sharks sell for millions, fine art suddenly has a revived relevance. While overt statements make us think, there is a charge in nuance that makes us feel. Ah art! Ah humanity!

Aleksandra Nowak “New Paintings”
Through October 12th
CFM Gallery
112 Greene Street
(212) 966 3864
11am- 6pm, Mon.- Sat.

12- 6pm, Sun. Sunday

Filed Under: Arts & Leisure | Events | New York





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