This show of abstract painting amazes not just for the quality and variety of pieces but also for when they were made—all in the same year and probably side-by-side, since they complement each other so well on the wall. Although rigorously abstract, they resemble many kinds of traditional representational painting. Some pieces recall the fantastic visions in Safavid Persian miniatures, suggesting landscapes that range from lush tropical rainforests to cold, dry alpine valleys in perspectives ranging from microscopic to aerial. Other pieces are more like still-lifes of flowers, bottles, tropical fish bowls or drapery, recalling the work of early modernists like Braque and Matisse. One piece even appears like the portrait of an attractive woman, not for any recognizable facial features, but for its alluring perfume of sensuality. Overall, the exhibit is a trip to paradise, and not the hellish kind that eventually becomes boring. There is a wide variety of painterly form. Some marks have been scratched and sanded, others appear to have blossomed like spring flowers on a lawn. All form appears to be emerging rather than established. The surfaces are alive, breathing and deep. Details run out to the far corners of even the largest pieces, but are always held to the center.
Abstract hedonism is hard to find in art galleries today, but has long been the specialty of Thomas McCormick Gallery. Zviedris does not offer the encyclopedia of painterly gesture that was found in last year’s exhibit of Robert Natkin’s heroic paintings from the 1950s. Nor does Zviedris offer the personal, heartfelt expressions of his exact contemporary, Michael Hedges, who was also shown here last year. Like Mimar Sinan, the designer of the Süleymaniye mosque in Istanbul, or Vasily Kandinsky in MoMA’s four “Campbell” panels, Zviedris is precise, relentless and focused on making a wall appear beautiful. One might call it escapism, but it’s an escape into a realm that uplifts and empowers the human spirit, setting an example of perfection for all human activity. (Chris Miller)
Through April 30 at Thomas McCormick Gallery, 835 West Washington.