September 18, 2010

John Dubrow at Lori Bookstein
by Lance Esplund


Working mostly with a close, almost monochrome, palette of opaque creams, grays, blues, browns, violets and putties, Mr. Dubrow, in these 10 recent paintings, achieves a crystalline light, dense yet natural, at times worthy of Giorgio Morandi. 

His scale is large, and his neutral colors hold against shots—zings—of bright red, mint, chartreuse, pink and turquoise. 

Mr. Dubrow (b. 1958) distills the world—an artist's studio, a jungle gym, a park bench, a rush-hour crowd—into shorthand simplifications of planar geometry, until they feel just right. Perception and invention, occasionally metaphoric, fuse in these rich and intelligent paintings. 

In "Prince and Broadway" (2002-10) the plain oval face of a passerby echoes a green traffic light in its shape and intensity. 

In a portrait of painter William Bailey, the sitter is lodged into an internal space as tightly as a piece of crockery in one of Mr. Bailey's own still lifes. 

And in "Mark Strand" (2010), the poet sits behind a glass table—which acts here as a poetic bridge of distortions and reflections, connecting subject to viewer. 

In these and other canvases, Mr. Dubrow may have positioned himself as New York's pre-eminent portrait painter.