York Time Review: “Swamp Series”
by Phyllis Braff
August 31, ‘86
TO PAINT IT, SHE FLEW
One of the significant
upheavals in contemporary art concerns
the use of the landscape theme. It is
now sometimes perceived as a sighting
from an airplane, or as a subject incorporating
outer-space phenomena. It can reflect
environmental worries through the choice
of material and attitude, or it can entice
the imagination by substituting an undefined
flat surface traditional illusions.
new landscape might be expressed through
color alone - perhaps a symbolic use of
green, blue, yellow or white - or it might
allow the energy of paint marks to evoke
D’Vorzon, a South Fork painter,
explores a number of these interests.
The latest work, currently featured at
the Bologna/Landi Gallery in East Hampton,
shows her to be reaching for sensations
that are not normally seen or recorded.
tries to get inside her views, attempting
to look at their light from behind, and
to study the actual growth process. The
observations are translated into intense
color and into spirited visual shorthand
that owes a great deal to abstraction.
exhibition is titled “Primal Waters;
Florida Swamps/East Hampton Ice”,
and it is these two locales that give
the show its point of view: contrasts
in climate, atmosphere, light and vegetation.
Lush, exotic color combinations, highlighted
with richly luminous pinks and greens,
make the Florida canvases the more assertive,
and often the most engaging.
carry out her analysis, Ms. D’Vorzon
becomes as familiar as possible with the
subject - flying over it, and visiting
it under many different weather conditions.
There have been at least six trips to
flights have led to paintings with unusual
perspectives. Often there is a tilting,
tipped-up ground, as in “Swamp Series
(With Cypress Knees)”. In a Long
Island scene “Accabonac Icing”
the odd angle gives the appearance of
an undulating, boldly patterned surface.
Certainly a good part of the impact and
originality in the D’Vorzon work
can be attributed to the surprises in
orientation and challenges to customary
ideas about gravity.
the best example, and one of the show’s
most fascinating paintings, is the seven-foot
“Night Swamp Fire”. Its mysterious
black and green darkness is pierced by
a massive, irregular light area of faintly
iridescent purples, greens and yellows.
The paint is made to seem semi-transparent,
and this helps the large bright shape
to produce a hypnotic effect. It is easy
to forget about landscape space and allow
that irresistible form to take on the
appearance of a meditational mandala.
D’Vorzon brings the sensibility
of an experienced abstractionist to her
current work. It was as an Abstract Expressionist
that she first exhibited at the Brata
Gallery in New York in the 1950’s,
and then participated in a number of exhibitions
in the avant-garde Tenth Street galleries.
She went on to build a substantial record
of exhibitions and institutional acquisitions.
experience with generalized forms is valuable
in achieving her current, more complicated
and subjective goals. These probes into
nature’s growth processes are intended
to be a summary of developmental stages
- of ice chunks, tree roots, swamp vegetation
and shore and water relationships.
is most interested in seeing whether a
painter can project a feeling of metamorphosis
and to accomplish this she emphasizes
broadly brushed, nonspecific images that
will seem to be a synthesis. There is
certain significance in the fact that
these paintings compress not only a view
and its illusionary space, but historical
time as well.
enough, it is the artist’s watercolor
studies that convey this transitory state
best, perhaps because it is characteristic
of the thinner paint to allow the sensation
of things emerging.
psychological effects of restless line
and color generate a feeling of nature’s
energy in the paintings. This becomes
especially intense in the canvases bounded
with a painted border, for these bands
are shown rippling and occasionally being
pierced, seemingly because of some thrusting,
unrestrainedly force. Some of the agitation
comes from liquid, dripping paint, but
most results from powerful, swirling strokes
that are inspired by water ripples or
of the best uses of pigment energy in
a Long Island work occurs in “East
Hampton With Scratch”, a glowing
pink and yellow study of tall shoreline
grasses, thick with burrs and brambles.
strength here is in the way the paintings
combine extraordinary visual effects with
a serious examination of nature. When
they are most successful, they can be