Daniel Higgs, Painting

About Daniel Higgs

Daniel Higgs’ show at the James Fuentes LLC Gallery in NYC is refreshing. His paintings are direct, passionate, rough and alive. They are also fresh, complex and driven by forces of spirit and nature. Daniel is primarily a musician. But above all else he is a free spirit and he lives his life to be a channel or vessel through which art can freely flow.

Most of the paintings can be thought of as groupings of symbols from the unconscious made visible. They are intensely wrought even feverish and remind me of early Pollack with a dash of R. Crumb. I feel that the R. Crumb aspect, which I associate with drawing, defines the imagery a bit and tends to dominate the color. As a result some of the paintings’ air is lost. Those paintings that do not have this quality are more luminous and more poetic.

My favorite painting in the show is also the largest painting. It is the most intriguing and coincidentally the most formally successful. It was made on a large sheet of paper, torn irregularly and scalloped along the top and then placed in a huge frame, so that it moves up from a relatively solid base. It rises slowly, arching upward dynamically, tending to move from left to right.

Mr.Higgs’s execution here is different. The marks are smaller and less insistent to begin with. Color reigns, as black is not used to describe or delineate, but used sparely as another color. Here he repeats small irregular, spiraling, multicolored shapes, which are woven together a little like a honeycomb. The smaller shapes give themselves up to the experience of the whole, which pulses and undulates organically. Unlike the other paintings in this show, whatever suggestions there are of iconography are suppressed, also in favor of the whole.

It is odd, but Pollack comes to mind once again, but this time it is his drip paintings whose impact is felt in the scale but whose details are alive, intricate and beautiful.

Finally, in this painting (image included with this post), it is less about subject than sensation and the emphasis is on vibration and dispersion. It is slower, more restrained and contained, and not as aggressive off the wall as the smaller works in the show. Its’ spark is truly luminous, alive, expansive and transcendental.

Written by Eric Holzman after an afternoon conversation with Daniel Higgs.

September 2012 ARTnews Review

September 2012 ARTnews


‘Coherent Surface,

Radiant Light’

Bernard Jacobson

This elegant and lucid show testified to the power of an imaginative, well conceived installation. Together the works, by an unusual grouping of artists, established surprising affinities and also showed themselves to best advantage. Here light was considered not simply as color or absence of substance or part of nature, but also as space—such as that residing between objects. By the gallery’s front windows, three Larry Bell sculptures stood sentry. Their glass-cube tops seemed to attract and regulate light from outside, as it passed through and changed character with the time and weather. Nearby was one of the late monochrome painter Rudolf de Crignis’s most magnetic blue canvases, hung low for intimacy and surrounded by ample space. Built on layers of paint applied vertically and horizontally on a ground of white, the work’s invisible structure and texture seemed to create and radiate light and air.

Also demonstrating the power of position, Kazimira Rachfal’s “as under a green sea” (2011), an oil on canvas with graphite paint, hung like a tiny jewel, demanding attention by virtue of its compactness and its stunning greenblue background and heavily worked over scratched gold center.

Similarly, Jake Berthot’s small, dark painting Nightscape—Coming Day (2001–10), occupying a wall of its own, was surprisingly striking for its subtle yet dramatic patch of illumination. By contrast, Vicky Colombet treated light both as air, in translucent watercolor, and as material, in a textured oiland-wax on canvas, where she actually shapes illumination. Beyond pure abstraction, there was the suggestion of landscape in the relief paintings of William Tillyer, who alludes to nature in the light-altering patterns of his surfaces and structures. Several artists here saw light more concretely, including Marc Vaux, whose illuminating geometry gives literal form to color; Bram Bogart, who traps light in the form of thick white impasto; and James Hayward, whose rich white strokes offer the visual titillation of a bowl of stiffening whipped cream. —Barbara A. MacAdam


‘the symmetries of translation in space’

Kazimira Rachfal’s paintings amaze me. A lopsided square or some similarly simple shape bordered by, or set within, a darker perimeter becomes intriguing to the point that just when I think to myself, “Okay, enough time spent on this little picture, move on,” I don’t, I cannot avert my eyes. I am drawn to the painting. Through my eyes I am being nourished. It reminds me of what it feels like to look at a masterpiece of pre-modern representational painting. I am imagining a Venetian or a French painting. The surface is somewhat opened, revealing the hand and the technique which built the painting. In such a painting, it is as much about the touch, the physical layering of the paint, as about the nuance of tone, color and shape.There is extreme care in the transitions, as the artist moves over the surface from painted edge to painted edge.

In Rachfal’s painting, though, there is really ‘’nothing’’ there, no real “image.”. Her work delivers and rewards in a way that somehow feels similar to Giorgione but it appears so different from Giorgione. What is it that makes them so different and so alike? The paintings are experiential. You don’t need your brain to “get them”. You just get them. They resonate lower down, in the body and in the soul. Sorting them out intellectually one must apply deep poetic intuitive resources.

Maybe it’s the extraordinary pitch she seems to strike when she calls the painting done. At that moment there is a resonance completely her own, akin to, but unlike Rothko, Neumann, Albers or Reinhardt. Though Rachfal begins by laying out a simple architecture, these paintings aren’t conceptual. That is why they are not of the intellect, do not depend on it, and their foundation is not built on thought. But they are completely and consistently coherent. They are glued together in another way. Call it sensation or feeling or an inner existential spiritual knowledge and toughness. Only a ripening of feeling obtained through the living of life can have the reflective quality that emanates from their core. It’s something like Cezanne and Provence, or Cezanne and Catholicism. It is truly extraordinary, this slow engagement, this depth of feeling and this vague but real association between Rachfal and pre-modern masters. I found something similar in the presence of Brice Marden’s early paintings. I describe the feeling to myself in this way: I imagine all of Cezanne had been condensed into a single field, and nothing of his astonishing depth is lost, just squashed and flattened a bit. Rachfal’s paintings project a similar experience. The paintings have presence! Their presence is sculptural in part, and, like an early Marden, monolithic.

Rachfal works quite extensively on the outer plain of her supports. This reinforces the paintings’ objectness. It forces the viewer to consider the painting in its entirety, from the wall out. The outer edge becomes a secondary player in the poetic nature of the painting and its abstract narrative. The surfaces are rich, alive, so painted and cared for but not too much. Like Marden, they are slow and careful, but also tossed off, elegant, effortless and aristocratic. The paintings are gestural. There is a root in abstract expressionism. Rachfal makes big moves rather than small adjustments, but these gestures are mostly hidden, modestly buried in the overall effect of the image. Ultimately they are like landscapes or portraits in their depth and detail.

With no imagery and little to see but painted shapes and color, Rachfal succeeds in projecting spiritual, emotional and intellectual depth. She loses nothing to modernist reductivism and minimalist style. Rachfal’s work is immutable and incomprehensible, sturdy with integrity like a force of nature.

Written by Eric Holzman while looking at Kazimira’s paintings one afternoon on Wooster Street.



‘the energy holder’

Depth, beauty, lightness of being, illusion in a size that is grand on a small scale. Delft porcelain comes immediately to mind as does the finest work of the Chinese masters. Kazimira Rachfal’s painting speaks volumes about a caring patience and understanding of art history and a deep exploration of that understanding.

 Written in the comment section of the blog by Vincent Gormley.