The Clock Unlocked
October 20, 2018
When we have passed a certain age, the soul of the child that we were and the souls of the dead from whom we sprang come and shower upon us their riches and their spells, asking to be allowed to contribute to the new emotions which we feel and in which, erasing their former image, we recast them in an original creation.
— Marcel Proust
The Clock Unlocked is the first exhibition to encompass works from over four decades of New York painter Ellen Berkenblit’s practice. Hung salon style, arranged instinctually and without chronology, this unbound diary of paintings and drawings reveals the artist’s idiosyncratic ‘alphabet’— the core of her visual language.
Images appear and re-submerge: a witch, a tiger, a shoe, a truck, all reveal themselves as a collection of curves, strokes, and slashes. One recognizes a gesture, and in it a notion of how the physical sensations and muscular reactions of the arm, the hand and the wrist all drive Berkenblit’s mark-making. The viewer becomes privy to an intimate calligraphy that is the result of the dance between artist, material, and surface.
Spanning an entire wall is Sunshine, the artist’s largest canvas to date. Measuring over 16 feet in length, the composition features a leopard prowling alongside a traffic-jammed street. In its surfaces, worked and reworked, we see a collection of rhythms sketched out in a familiar hand. Loop-de-loops of exhaust fumes mimic the cursive ‘e-l-l-e’ in the artist’s name while dashed lines become lane markers. As we trace Berkenblit’s line, we are given a look into her memory; remembering, remembering again, and in the final composition, a perfect sense of order is restored and preserved.
The Clock Unlocked is presented in conjunction with Ellen Berkenblit’s new monograph, Lines. The gallery will host a book signing and panel discussion featuring contributing writers Linda Yablonsky and Miciah Hussey on Thursday, September 20th.
2018The Brooklyn Rail