An uncommonly gifted paint-handler, Mr. Moore is exacting when detailing observed phenomenon. The streamlined array of Post-Its in Theater District (2006), stuck on the wall and reflected in the window, is a remarkable painterly feat. The same is true for the cityscape glimpsed through the slats of a Venetian blind in Ten Days (2006-7). Other examples abound, yet Mr. Moore remains the least flashy of artists. A painter friend observed that any artist with enough chops to show off should have the decency not to. Mr. Moore is as decent as they come.
He pays thorough attention to how things look but avoids trompe l’oeil illusions. Mr. Moore’s touch is regulated and blunt, and is spread evenly over the paintings’ surfaces. The insistent—at times overly insistent—brushwork emphasizes flatness and remove. The selective use of photography probably accounts for some of the work’s disassociated feel: Attuned as much to abstraction as to representation, Mr. Moore yields to neither. The paintings are uncompromisingly impersonal; nothing slackens their tautness.
Mr. Moore tips his hand in a series of small still lifes in which vision succumbs to contrivance. The arrangements of index cards strewn about, a purple glove and stray pieces of silverware are too self-consciously staged. Their bird’s-eye viewpoint becomes blandly didactic, speaking down to rather than engaging the viewer.
Bigger formats ask more from the artist. Certainly, Mr. Moore brings greater pictorial invention to them. In doing so, he embraces the mysteries they suggest while trusting the relentless eye that sets them in motion. The surer an individual composition is, the more enigmatic its pictorial and narrative tangents—an absorbing paradox. These are perplexing paintings, stoic in temper and ambitious almost against their inclinations.
John Moore: Paintings is at Hirschl & Adler, 21 East 70th Street, until June 1.
Gregory Amenoff’s paintings, on display at the Alexandre Gallery, are modest in size but grand in scale. Putting an inelegant touch in the service of semi-abstracted landscapes, Mr. Amenoff conjures, among many other things, cranky geological forms, pregnant clouds and spiky cosmological explosions. Everything in these packed and interlocking compositions is monumental, bulky and unabashedly theatrical. Colored by romance, his riffs on the American landscape are nevertheless dominated by fact: Mr. Amenoff is drawn to nature because of its in-your-face tangibility. He tackles this unassuming truth with an appropriately gritty spirit.
Gregory Amenoff: Facing North is at the Alexandre Gallery, 41 East 57th Street, until May 31.