After introducing the world to newly discovered Abstract Expressionist painter Arthur Pinajian (1914-1999), Bellport’s Gallery 125 has been busy working on a documentary, opening a Hamptons location for the season and expanding their horizons—literally.
“We’re thrilled to be in our fifth season here in Bellport,” says Executive Director/Chief Curator Thomas Schultz. “Realizing in 2010 that Bellport had a school of painters all working in a similar fashion, namely horizontally, we have become a home for this movement. Calling it Horizontalism, the group works on canvases on the floor as opposed to upright on a wall or an easel.”
The Horizontalists pour, drip, scrape and abrade pigments and other substances on horizontal surfaces laying flat on floors or tables. The artists use mostly non-traditional implements such as trowels, hawks and sanders, and the forces of gravity and centrifugal force. Unusual materials, including sand and glue and instant coffee, among other things, also find their way into the work. The supports can be traditional stretched canvas but also drop cloths and sheets of Styrofoam.
Much like what Jackson Pollock did with his canvas-on-the-floor drip paintings, this allows for a 360-degree view of the work in progress, as the artist can walk around—or on—the work and see it from an entirely different spatial view.
The artists in the Horizontalist Movement include Daniel O’Keefe, a relative of Georgia O’Keeffe (though they spell the surname differently), who works with Venetian plaster; David Adams, who uses punctured cans of paint hung from the ceiling or a tripod, then pushes and allows them to move on their own to form ordered arcs. Larry Wolhandler employs an electric sander on rectangles of house paint; Mark Van Wagner’s favorite materials are sand and glue, while founding member John Perreault says, “When our paintings made on the horizontal are tilted to the vertical and hung on walls, the viewer sees aerial abstractions, maps of process, beautiful bird’s-eye views, and glimpses of spatial, psychological and semantic disorientation. Increasingly I am now using gravity as my brush. We are not turning painting upside down; we are turning painting on its side.”
In addition to the Horizontalists, Gallery 125 is working with a film crew to tell the phenomenal story of Arthur Pinajian, the reclusive Bellport painter whose stunning trove of life’s work, work that was destined for the dumpster, was discovered in a barn.
Rescued by Schultz and his partner Lawrence Joseph after purchasing the cottage and barn where Pinajian lived, the find has become an international sensation, potentially worth millions of dollars.
The documentary interviews Pinajian’s surviving relatives, art critics, curators and art historians. With the film, titled Pinajian—Master of Abstraction Discovered, now in the post edit phase, a first run is planned for later this year. A six-minute trailer is already on YouTube, and an ongoing exhibit of Pinajian’s work is on permanent display in the second-floor gallery at Gallery 125’s
On Saturday, June 28, Gallery 125 will be opening an additional space in Water Mill for a three-month group survey exhibition of both Pinajian’s work and the Horizontalists.
Visitors to the mammoth ArtHamptons fair in Bridgehampton in July will also be able to see a selection of the work at Gallery 125’s booth there.
Schultz is championing a unique, elite group in the tradition of the Surrealists of 1920s Paris and the Abstract Expressionists from New York City in the 1940s.
“We are bringing our Horizontalist movement and Pinajian to the Hamptons in a big way this summer,” Schultz says. “Our artists are all from the area, so it is really a perfect fit to bring them where the international art world will be in July.”
Gallery 125 in Bellport will continue to have monthly summer exhibits at 125 South Country Road, Bellport, 631-880-2693; Gallery 125 Water Mill opens Saturday, June 28, with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. at 688 Montauk Hwy, Water Mill; Gallery 125 at ArtHamptons, July 10-13, 2014, Nova’s Ark sculpture fields in Bridgehampton; gallery125.org.