Stas Volovik’s Playful Shapeshifting at Thierry Goldberg

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Lighthearted yet formally serious, Stas Volovik’s paintings–on view through April 18 in his New York solo debut, at Thierry Goldberg Gallery–prove that abstraction still has fruitful terrain to explore. Circles, starbursts, triangles, rectangles, and looping umbrella-or-cane shapes combine in unexpected ways, all rendered in a lively yet subdued color palette that is defiantly timeless (especially when combined with a certain weathered quality to the surfaces, which makes them even harder to affix to a specific era). These works (most all of which were made from around 2008 onward) might properly be called whimsical, if that adjective didn’t carry such negative baggage. Instead, let’s agree that they’re restless and kinetic, an invigorating exercise in recombining simple ingredients to make something uncommon and strange. The gallery has two quite large canvases on view, but it’s in the 23 smaller-scale pieces that Volovik’s pared-down compositions truly shine. Volovik was born in Uzbekistan, and now works in Germany, so it’d be interesting to know how (if at all) that interesting geographic background has found its way into his quirky iconography. Check out the show downtown; the gallery will also be bringing Volovik’s paintings to the EXPO Chicago fair this September.