Amer Kobaslija at George Adams Gallery

This summer George Adams Gallery will present new large-scale paintings by Amer Kobaslija. Following his debut exhibition at the gallery earlier this year featuring small-scale paintings of his studio, this exhibition will introduce six new oils of the artist's studio that range in size from single panel paintings 5x4 feet to a nearly life-size triptych 7x12 feet.

Kobaslija favors vertiginous perspectives and this sensation is greatly enhanced by his shift to the larger scale. Con Te Partiro (Time to Say Goodbye), 2006, for example, presents a cluttered studio -- paint encrusted palette, paint splattered floor, photographs and paintings covering the walls, a tripod-mounted camera in the center of the room -- seen from above. The skewed bird's eye-view not only reveals the artists working method, but also draws attention to and intensifies the complex ecosystem of the artist's cramped quarters. In contrast, Door View, 2005, also a triptych and one of the largest paintings in the exhibition at just over 7x9 feet, starkly depicts the studio as if abandoned with bare whitewalls and the door left ajar.

Amer Kobaslija was born in Bosnia in 1975. He received his BFA from the Ringling School of Art and Design in Florida and his MFA from Montclair University in New Jersey. In 2005, Kobaslija was awarded a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant.

Art in Review; Amer Kobaslija

By Ken Johnson
Published: June 30, 2006

Large-Scale Studio Paintings
George Adams Gallery
525 West 26th Street, Chelsea
Through Aug. 18

It's not what you paint, but how you paint. That might be the motto of Amer Kobaslija, a young artist from Bosnia who has a recent M.F.A. degree from Montclair State University. Mr. Kobaslija makes paintings of his studio, a small, windowless, white-walled room of the sort commonly provided to graduate students by state universities. Working on panels joined into diptychs or triptychs measuring up to 7 feet by 12 feet, he paints intensely realistic, exhaustively detailed pictures of the room and its contents as if viewed from a corner near the ceiling.

Because of their near life-size scale, skewed perspectives and convincing spatial illusions, the paintings induce a sensation of vertigo. Mr. Kobaslija's photographically assisted attention to detail enhances the effect. Draw closer, however, and the illusion collapses into sensuously busy surfaces. Stains, paint marks and footprints on the floors turn large areas into passages of pure painterly abstraction.

The paintings have autobiographical intrigue, too, as the contents of the room, including painting supplies and personal stuff, like clothes, keys, a cellphone, a CD player and food and drink containers, evoke the life of a contemporary artist. (Joe Fig's miniature models of artists' studios come to mind.) And there is a spiritual dimension: the studio is like a monk's cell, a place to practice Zen-like attentiveness to ordinary reality.

Ken Johnson