Patrick Neal reviews the exhibition Phaedo at Storefront Bushwick, Brooklyn, on view through July 28, 2013. The show features works by Emily Berger, Ben Echeverria, Nate Ethier, JJ Garfinkel, Elizabeth Hazan, Gilbert Hsiao, Osamu Kobayashi, Dominic Mangila, Lauren Portada, and Anne Russinof.
Neal writes: "Taking its title from Plato’s dialogue on the soul’s immortality, the exhibit 'presents the practice of abstraction as a vehicle for the exploration of a world that exists apart from the physical one we inhabit.' This is a nice idea that, dare I say, reaches for the transcendent. As opposed to the tentative, the work in Phaedo is rigorously grounded and owes something to the abstract painting examined in the National Academy Museum’s High Times Hard Times, an important show that focused on the transitional work of painters from 1967 through 1975. Back then, abstract painting investigations were still rooted in aesthetic considerations coming on the heels of high modernism. If much contemporary abstract painting has a 'hands off' mentality, then the work in Phaedo is very much 'hands on' even when it is minimal or slight. With several paintings in the show, the emphasis is less on building up to a terminal point as it is about putting together the right combination of elements to achieve balance."