Translucence: Jill Nathanson at Berry Campbell
February 6, 2021 - Piri Halasz for Artcritical
A veteran of more than 20 solo exhibitions in New York since her 1982 debut, and nearly 30 group shows since 1980 from Massachusetts to Florida, Jill Nathanson is entitled to be counted as a heavyweight in the art scene. Ironic, therefore, that her latest show is so striking for its light, airy, almost translucent qualities, its diaphanous veils of color rooted in both science and imagination.
She learned the ABC’s of color from Kenneth Noland and Larry Poons on an informal basis in the late 1970s and early 1980s when an undergraduate at Bennington College, Vermont. Neither of these painters was on the faculty, however, and Nathanson once told me that many and maybe most of her fellow Bennington art students were making paintings that looked more like Helen Frankenthaler – Bennington’s most famous alumna – with whom Nathanson wanted her paintings to have nothing to do. And although there may be some remote similarities, the glossier-looking finish of Nathanson’s paintings and the distinctive shapes in them have long stamped them with an artistic personality entirely her own.
Nathanson’s technique differs from those used by color-field painters in the 1960s, though it employs “modelli” (preparatory studies) and in this somewhat resembles the “modelli” that Friedel Dzubas employed in the later 1970s and ‘80s. But Dzubas didn’t invent modelli. Their use goes back to the Renaissance, if not earlier. And the materials that Nathanson employs are right up to the minute – as is her abstract idiom.