Howard Buchwald

Howard Buchwald was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1943. He received a B.F.A. from Cooper Union, New York and an M.A. from Hunter College of the City University of New York. His awards include two from the National Endowment for the Arts; a Guggenheim Fellowship; and grants from The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts and Creative Artists Program Services. The artist resides in New York City.

Buchwald’s new paintings have a visual density that grows out of his last exhibition where curvilinear lines took over the rhythmic field of his paintings and functioned as a unit of color. The artist paints a range of thick arabesque lines and squiggles in more languorous rhythms than the earlier works, one cannot help but think of music with its compositional notes and passages. And, in fact, rhythm is now more important than ever to the artist. He builds color areas, not solids or shapes, but passages where the eye stops and pauses and travels onward.

Buchwald’s is a global geography that allows the eye an exciting journey through the painting as it changes in intensity in its ebbs and flows of palette and juxtaposition. “Change” is a key word for the artist, islands of interlacing color which twist and turn around each other must be, as he says “resolved locally as well as globally.” He prefers to have no general “mark making or generalized effect, everything has to be looked at and felt…creating a high energy construct,” Buchwald says in a letter to a friend. If one word were used to describe these paintings it would have to be energetic.

“Willfulness and discipline” in decision making and “editing” to make a “big yet simple” painting are goals, says Buchwald. There is no square inch of the painting that is not considered with equal attention and energy, yet the totality feels spontaneous and organic, not studied and stiff. The lines, squiggles, arabesques keep the eye dancing, engaged, interested and active. Buchwald successfully sets up a circular dialogue that works.

The palette has changed in the paintings as well. Moving away from the calm of his ‘70s simplified color system, Buchwald dives in feet first to the splendors of a joy-filled palette. Yellows bound into oranges rebound on pinks careening into purples while red swirls around mustard into olive, around a green-blue that cannot be named, to an anchoring black. These are paintings about the sheer joy of color and painting but rigorously conceived intellectually. If the drawing line were not just right and colors not perfectly calibrated they might run off the canvas edge, but no such short sight here.