The New York Sun
July 24, 2003
Louis Finkelstein at Lori Bookstein
by David Cohen
The late Louis Finkelstein is an artist who demanded more from color than Paul Resika and got less. His muse was also Mediterranean: Cézanne, Bonnard, and Matisse were his portal to the old masters. Some landscapes were made in Provence, others with Provençal memories in Vermont and New York. But his sensualism is tinged with an angst that would be alien to Mr. Resika. Finkelstein was more the intellectual—a beloved teacher, a formidable if idiosyncratic theorist and scholar—yet he seems not to have been blessed with the degree of pictorial intelligence that comes effortlessly to a natural like Mr. Resika.
Nonetheless, a show of late pastels at Lori Bookstein, which closes this weekend, offers a persuasive case for greatness. There are sublime moments in works whose rushed awkwardness has an aura of aesthetic desperation. Images are energized by impatience. The way he uses collage in many of these drawings has a similar effect: Taking the knife to these works lends them a sense of cut-throat bravura. The unfinish makes these drawings especially likeable, forcing a contrast to the oppressive density and exhausting all-overness that often mar Finkelstein's canvases.
Finkelstein's late color is genuinely intriguing. It could equally be regarded as instinctive or schematic. Are the works following a hermetic logic, working different chromatic temperatures upon the viewer's perception to intimate depths and shallownesses of space with almost alchemical ingenuity? Or are they blazing a trail, singing a mad Dionysian song of their own?