Cornelia Schulz at Patricia Sweetow Gallery

Crossing the Styx, 2008 oil, acrylic, alkyd and ink work by Cornelia Schulz. Image courtesy Patricia Sweetow Gallery


By Kenneth Baker Saturday, January 31, 2009.


Each time I think that Cornelia Schulz’s work cannot get any better, she enriches it with fresh complexities. See her show at Patricia Sweetow Gallery.

For some years, Schulz’s art seemed to build and comment on the project of activating paintings’ perimeters that connects Barnett Newman (1905-1970), Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella and Elizabeth Murray (1940-2007), among others.

Like those predecessors, Schulz treated the outer contours of a painting as a troubled boundary between what she could control and the uncontrollable, between domains of intended meaning and of misreading and chance.

In “Crossing the Styx” (2008), she characteristically handles the painting like a cluster of pieces that notch together, after a fashion, without even implying that they belong in the same puzzle, never mind that they solve a puzzle

Bits of smooth geometry – individually stretched, sleekly tinted canvases – abut a central shape that looks almost like a transplanted patch of studio floor, with layers of smeared and spilled, puckered paint, congealing as if from neglect.

The wildly different types of material and aesthetic incident in the piece suggest a collision of several artworks or of different frames of the artist’s mind.

If Schulz’s work has a nonabstract meaning or correlate, it may be the continual struggle we all feel today in containing our attention, against intrusions of all kinds, from every direction, including within.