Artist Profile: Philip Gerstein


photo 1 philipPhilip Gerstein in front of his painting, The Cool Dude, acrylic and mixed textural media on wood panel, 24 x 24 in., 2018     Photo By Brian Goslow

Appassionata on Color

By: Frank Capezzera

Boston, MA– There are twelve new post-minimalist paintings in acrylics and mixed media by Philip Gerstein in his latest solo show at Galatea Fine Art in Boston’s SoWa art district. Each piece offers the artist’s meditations on color in the minimalist form. At first glance Gerstein employs a seemingly simple language: geometric blocks, bands and ribbons of vertical and diagonal colors. A closer examination reveals the transforming effects produced by the addition of tiny glass beads, microdots and crystalline bits to the medium and the pigments.  Philip suggests that spending some extra time with one or more of his paintings will be a rewarding experience. There are happy surprises for viewers who take his advice.

This is a committed abstract artist. One of his formative influences was Vasily Kandinsky, who, in the vanguard of abstract art in the early 20th Century, proclaimed that a common spiritual experience could enfold the artist and the viewer.

Sometimes There Is Bliss (24x48) adj
Sometimes There Is Bliss, acrylic, 24 x 48 in., 2018    Photo By Brian Goslow

Gerstein paints in order to express emotion, and sometimes to share the experience of “personal bliss,” and to dig deeply down to what he refers to as the “spiritual root of art.” His compositions are solidly constructed but activated by the reflections and refractions generated by the additive materials. The thoughtfully selected palettes, animated by the technique, read as both natural and inventive. Gerstein writes that he is after the effect induced by color, movement, and form to express something of “our emotional selves, without insisting on one specific story (or) a single interpretation.” This artist is fluent in other post abstract expressionist languages as well , ( ( ) but this show is exclusively his brand of minimalism.

TheWindCarriesThe Scent (30x40)The Wind Carries The Scent, acrylic, 30 x 40 in., 2018    Photo by Brian Goslow

The paintings are mostly free of visible brush work. They display the artist’s experimentations and successes with textural additive materials mixed directly into the pigment or glazed over underlying paint. These admixtures serve to reflect, absorb and refract the light they receive and thus respond to their environment.  The paintings happily disrupt our initial expectations,  sparingly, but effectively. They vary in complexity and depth of application of mediums. Some forms, such as the ribbons, stand up under the gallery light in glistening, encrusted  impasto bands.

Sometimes There is Bliss, (24 x 48 in., acrylic, glass beads, and mixed media on wood panel), for which the show is named, is perhaps the most simply illustrative of the results of Gerstein’s work in this series. Compositionally, the elongated rectangle of this panel is divided vertically into three unequal fields of color. A dominant central, boldly orange rectangle is flanked on the left by a more loosely brushed mixture of violets of varied tints and shades. To the right, there is a translucent light green tinted admixture in which the glass beads in gel suspension are put to work. The fluctuations of pale green light in the right hand panel make it an active force in the painting. Ostensibly a hard geometric piece from ten feet away, it slowly reveals its organic characteristics in secondary colors.

Another strong success is The Wind Carries the Scent, (30 x 40 in., oil stick, acrylic, glass beads and mixed media on wood panel). The eggplant field on the left is rich with topography and variety while the other secondary colors, including a gentle slice of orange along the right edge, exude energy and invite a contemplative state in the patient viewer (and this writer).

Sometimes There is Bliss , by Philip Gerstein October 3-28, 2018 at Galatea Fine Art, 460 Harrison Avenue, #B-6 Boston, MA 02118 617-542-1500. Gallery Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 12-5 pm and by appointment.



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