Art in Review

Roberta Smith, New York Times, 4 October 2002


Torben Giehler is one of several young painters working in the overlap of formalist abstraction, digital cartography and photography, exploring an illusionistic style that seems indebted to Al Held (who served as éminence grise in a four-artist painting exhibition at P.S. 1 this summer that has now morphed into a large show of Mr. Held's recent work). In his second solo show, Mr. Giehler has beefed up his paintings with jumpier colors, slightly thicker surfaces and tighter, more varied compositions.


Fashioned from bright shapes, zooming lines and tilting planes that must require hours of applying masking tape, these works dazzle the eye with their careering video-game sense of space and structure. Sometimes we look down through one patchwork plane to several others; sometimes they are stacked in front of us, accordion-style. In two especially impressive works, ''Lhotse'' and ''K2-North Spur,'' the shapes alone coalesce into jagged mountain peaks that seem to have erupted from checkerboard floors.


Mr. Giehler has strong, less purely formal competition: Franz Ackermann, Jim Lambie, Sarah Morris, Benjamin Edwards, Julie Mehretu and Matthew Ritchie, for example. But the idea that space is still, or once again, the final frontier in painting enlivens his work, as it does theirs. 


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