Mike Solomon: Returning to the Mark

Salomon Contemporary, New York, NY

By Paul Laster, Whitehotmagazine.com / New York

November, 2012 — An East End artist with roots that extend deep into the Hampton’s arts community, Mike Solomon brings a full show of his minimalist paintings and sculptures back to New York for the first time in many years. The son of the Abstract Expressionist painter Syd Solomon, who was a central figure in the New York art scene of the 1950s and ‘60s, the younger Solomon draws on the same sources of inspiration—light and water—that defined the spiritual nature of his father’s work, as well as that of Syd’s pals: James Brooks, Willem de Kooning, and Conrad Marca-Relli.

Returning to the Mark, the artist’s first solo outing at Salomon Contemporary in New York City, features five paintings and three sculptures from the past six years. Untitled #3 (2006) overlays a veil of beeswax on muslin above a canvas capturing reflective light rippling on water that’s painted in acrylic, while the remaining painted pieces are watercolors on mulberry paper that are layered and layered and then covered in epoxy. Engender (2012) juxtaposes blue watercolor brushstrokes, which create a network of horizontal and vertical marks that blur into a watery realm, and Through the Garden, Through the Gate (2012) turns intersecting green and yellow strokes into a sublime abstraction of a flowery domain.

On the sculptural side, the artist offers wave-like forms made from nylon net, fiberglass, and resin. A surfer since the ‘60s, Solomon constructs gridded snippets of waves, as only a knowledgeable rider could conceive them. Translucent and reflective, his sculptural waves—which ironically begin with the nylon of fisherman’s nets before being solidified with tinted fiberglass and epoxy resin—silently flow from the gallery’s walls and floor. Petalon (2008-2010) rolls from ultramarine green to a white of wave caps, while the luminous Panta Rhei (2008) twists and turns like a tunneling wave that surfers strive to ride under. Similarly, Bolster (2008-2010) takes the shape of a wall of water rising from the deep and about to turn inward.

Inviting moments of contemplation and bliss, Solomon’s poetic pieces become touchstones for anyone that’s ever felt right at home on an island, peninsula, or near to the shore. If you let the work completely wash over you, you can almost feel the sun, smell the ocean and gardens, and hear the wind and the waves come sweeping through your soul.