flow over
remain again
new again


A Painter of Whispers
The Art of Steve Seinberg

by Robert Sherer

Although but thirty years of age Steve Seinberg has already reached a level of technical facility and philosophical stance usually identified with artists far beyond his years. Seldom do we witness an emerging artist move so effortlessly into a mid-career stride. To say that Seinberg is precocious with the language of painting would be an understatement, his vocabulary of paint applications and references are remarkable for any age.

Because the various elements within his pictures are determined by what he intuits at each moment of the process of creation, it is always a pleasure to explore his work. During a typical walk across the juicy surface of one of his paintings our eyes might encounter a host of elements: a line of poetry, a bit of botanical information, a reference to a teacher, a simple observation, a tip of the hat to a personal hero. This combined process of sampling visual and literary sources translates into an exciting experience for the viewer.

Of the primary formal elements within a Seinberg work of art, none is more discussed than the issue of color. It is not only too easy but is also incorrect to describe Seinberg's paintings as monochromatic, meaning that they are variations on a theme of one color: white. Clearly, a multitude of colors are to be found in his paintings. In fact, the presence of this prismatic effect supports the belief of physicists that white isn't the absence of color but rather is an amalgam of all of the colors of the spectrum. Seinberg's technique coaxes these colors out of the white.

In the art world this type of light painting is commonly referred to as 'high- key painting' because it primarily uses the upper values of the dark-to-light scale. A great deal of what we are allowed to see and not see in Seinberg's art is determined by the hiding power of these white pigments he uses. Some have the opacity of an avalanche utterly covering all trace of the ground. Others have the masking strength of a semitransparent layer of ice where only faint ghostlike impressions of the original expression can still beseen beneath.

Needless to say, it takes a tremendous sense of nuance and power ofrestraint to create this type of art. The elements fade in and out of the paint in an almost imperceptible manner. To be touched by this work is not unlike experiencing a subtle glance, or a faint whisper held under the breath, or the wind's light kiss on your cheek. At the risk of sounding flippant, either you get it or you don't. These paintings are made by a very sensitive/perceptive person for a very sensitive/perceptive audience. This is the visual art of people who know that what is not said is often more important than the spoken word.

Steve Seinberg continues to remain one of the most consistently interesting young contemporary artists to watch. His is a steadfast belief that abstract painting is still a viable means of expressing the inexpressible. Not only does he defy the convention of Abstract painting by losing all sense of representational imagery but he also defies the convention of Nonobjective painting by refusing to be loud or vulgar to prove his modernity or American brashness.

Through the years, Seinberg's journey to find an "essence of expression" has left us a trail strewn snatched up by collectors. This latest body of art represents his most comprehensive exhibition to date. In it we see an array of the pictorial elements he has explored during the last decade but we also see some changes, some flirtations hinting at a slight aesthetic shift. Only time will tell where he takes us next.

Copyright 2000


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