A flood of graphic images met visitors to Gary Goldstein's recent exhibition "Une Bonne Nouvelle Qui Rendra Heureux" (Good News to Make You Happy). This show of work from the past three years brought together 11 extensive series of small, uniformly sized drawings that were displayed behind Plexiglas sheets. In addition, Goldstein presented glass vitrines which were crowded with small objects such as teaspoons, plaster casts of teeth, eyeglasses, small dolls and noses from masks. Each object was painted with correction fluid, usually white but sometimes blue or pink. The ensemble of objects suggested a display of archeological findings which to the untrained observer may not be impressive but which fascinate the expert.
Even without knowing that Goldstein is the son of Holocaust survivors, associations with the Holocaust were unavoidable in the show. The artist scratches black six-pointed stars into the correction fluid and inserts them into his drawings; often he also writes out the word "Jew" or "Jude." The objects themselves are equally evocative: detached sets of teeth, hooked noses reminiscent of anti-Semitic caricatures, opaque eyeglasses, grotesque tiny balls painted as eyes. (The glasses and eyes could be read as implicit comments on the inability of art to describe or reflect certain experiences.) The thick white coating creates a luminous layer and removes the objects from the realm of banality. A plastic doll becomes a fertility goddess; ordinary bottles take on the aura of ancient relics.
The visual language in Goldstein's densely woven drawings is elemental: teardrop forms, black moons, human and animal facial features, pyramids, floating cones, body parts. Each series of drawings further incorporates a particular kind of repeated mark-making, such as dots or scribbles made with a ballpoint pen. Snakelike chains of connected words also appear in the drawings. While the resulting visual intricacy evokes medieval illuminated manuscripts, Goldstein's use of cheap contemporary materials anchors the works firmly in the present. As for his flat, simplified images, they evoke the world of comics and graffiti, as well as artistic predecessors from Roy Lichtenstein to KeithHaring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Also included was a recently published artist's book (Goldstein's tenth), the title of which, Une Bonne Nouvelle Qui Rendra Heureux, gave the show its name. Taking a French edition of an illustrated Jehovah's Witnesses publication, Goldstein filled every page of the book with his own images. Like the vitrines filled with found objects, the book seems to provide the artist with a frame for his obsessive, urgent, commemorative drawing practice.
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