TimeOut New York: Gideon Bok

A version of this review appeared in TimeOut New York:

Plane Space

Despite his pedigree (an MFA from Yale in Studio Arts, a 2004 Guggenheim Fellowship, several years in Brooklyn), Gideon Bok’s first New York solo show leaves viewers asking, “You’re not from around here, are you?”  A group of fifteen paintings—oil on linen, ranging from 22x14 inches to 79x55 inches—make up the exhibition.  Through evolving depictions of, for the most part, his own Northampton studio, Bok works as a temporal scribe—capturing the flows and eddies of time.  In Untitled, 2001-4, different window panels take up distinct seasons of multiple years.  Tables and chairs move—shadow-like—over transparencies of days, weeks, months, years.  While the subject of time is in no ways strange to present-moment New York painters, the shock and charm of Bok’s work is that the paintings feel so un-New York.  And it’s not just that Bok’s tree branches are real, as opposed to imaginary, it’s that—and it may come as a surprise to some that this is possible—he has connected to the world not in terms of an urbane artworld, but in terms of something, somewhere else.

Certainly, Bok is capable of assertive color, as in the cerulean blue of Last Light of Day—and his compositional skills are wide-ranging and authoritative.  Perhaps most important, Bok avoids the prevalent New York artist pitfalls—the wearisome paranoia and fashion-show cool.  With an affable resolve, Bok has set off for elsewhere.