Much of what we take to be universal isn’t quite: colors signify differently across cultures, as do hand gestures and facial expressions; the seasons are not the same from one end of a country to another; the flowers that grow here do not grow there. What’s left? Not so much, once you get into contemporary anthropology, but for now let’s focus on elementary geometry, as does Irina Hinkel in a number of her spiritually yearning paintings. Hinkel has many subjects, among them dance and flowers and the human form, but nearly all her painterly presentations of these topics are grounded by simple shapes. Four grids of colorful squares translate the seasons; a bi-color composition of a circle flanked by two vertical bars could be a flag for a new nation; even a small floral still life feels at once circular and spiral. Best of all is “Dance,” in which four funky square abstractions, painted to look sloppily taped onto a wood board, seem to be dancing themselves into ever more complex shapes. But it all starts with the basics, as in “No Race Figure,” where a patterned person rises blissfully from a golden circle.
—Lori Waxman 2019-04-30 2:37 PM