David Row at Von Lintel & Nusser
January, 2000
by Hilarie Sheets

David Row, Chemistry of Desire,1999, oil and alkyd on wood, 48″ x 60″. Von Lintel & Nusser.

David Row’s signature oval forms broke deliriously loose in this elegant and animated show. Slaloming over the surface and off the edges of these eleven new paintings and works on paper, Row’s fat roller-coaster line takes the viewer on a trip through space. Underpinning it, though, is a complex, geometric framework. Each painting is a diptych, with a vertical seam joining the canvases or wood panels, which are painted different colors or in alternating bands of color running horizontally across both panels. In a sharply contrasting color, the elliptical line starts its journey, but tracing its trajectory becomes mindteasing, as it loops over and under itself or shifts tone as it weaves through different color fields.

In Sidewise, for instance, a white figure eight, evocative of the symbol of infinity, twines around angled poles on a black ground and continues off sides. The tones reverse themselves though, black on white, across the midsection, creating the effect of positive and negative photographic exposures suggesting alternating universes. This piece is lyrically reprised across the room in Ovalisque, a clever abstraction in both name and form. Its composition is a mirror image of Sidewise, but Row uses a more highly keyed palette—vibrant orange on deep blue, flipping to blue on a peachy pink-and-white plaid, and back again.

Less monumental but very playful is Chemistry of Desire, with two discreet tines—one pink, one white—snaking down each half of the black ground. While never touching, the white drips curve over the center seam, as if to spoon in the arc of the pink, and lower down, the pink moves across the center line to kiss or butt heads with the white. Beautifully, mathematically, almost musically, Row’s calculated abstractions let the infinite reign.