Schulz at Sweetow

“Ice Into Water” (2005), oil,¬†acrylic, alkyd and ink work by Cornelia Schulz. Image courtesy Patricia Sweetow Gallery

By Kenneth Baker
January 14, 2006. Page E-10


Schulz at Sweetow: Marin County painter Cornelia Schulz still takes seriously the idea, rooted in the ’60s, that abstract paintings ought to exploit their own physical profiles, to make parameters of their perimeters, as author William Gass might say.

Schulz’s recent pieces at Sweetow take her pictorial thinking to a new and pleasing level of complication.

“Ice Into Water” (2005) offers an anthology of Schulz’s techniques: the notching together of separate, canvas-covered wood elements, pouring, splashing, coating them with color or collage, sluicing ink over dried enamel to bring out its puckers.

Almost cartoonish biomorphic shapes flow over or from under crisp rectangles of color, teasing the eye further with the implication of coded narrative in Schulz’s constructed surfaces.

But words cannot really follow where Schulz’s details lead the eye, blunt though they may be. On the border of one component of “Ice Into Water,” the paint flow engulfs a fringe of newsprint, enacting the viewer’s sensation of verbal analysis shutting down before advancing matter. Ciphers wink from within other pieces, most obviously in “Oh” (2005), and the works’ silhouettes frequently hint at typographic amputations.

Schulz’s work sustains a rare and wonderful marriage of economy and complication, smoothness and unpredictability.