top of page


ART REVIEWS/Helen A. Harrison

Basic Abstraction
East Meadow Public Library, 1886 Front Street, East Meadow.


Barry Feuerstein's brand of abstraction does reduce its imagery to basic. That is all to the good, since the dominant subject is headhunters' trophies, which also includes several of Mr. Feuerstein's expressively painted chromatic studies and works based on ancient hieroglyphics. Thanks to the artist's formalistic approach, the series is far from grotesque, nor does it exploit the curiosity value of such souvenirs. Rather, the head, literally disembodied but not gruesomely severed, becomes a constant motif that symbolizes the dead warrior's spirit. Singly and in serried rows, the heads function more as masklike emblems or veiled presences, often seeming to float in shallow space. Collaged areas of ground-up herbs create the sculptural texture of protean faces that sometimes sink beneath layers of paint, sometimes merge with their surroundings and sometimes assert themselves forcefully.

In some of the larger paintings, the head shapes and the poles on which they are displayed all but disappear in generalized compositions, so that their importance is more structural than thematic. In "No. 55", for example, the surrounding terrain, with its dusty earth colors and coppery undertones, is dominant. Mr. Feuerstein makes effective use of copper paint, and of shimmering copper leaf, as an accent in several works, among them "Egyptian Syntax", which synthesizes references to papyrus scrolls and temple carvings.

bottom of page