Work on Monday: “Gold Cenote” by David Geiser

Today’s Work on Monday examines a large piece by one of the Hamptons’ kings of contemporary Abstract Expressionism, David Geiser. (Scroll down for larger image.)

Work on Monday is a weekly look at one piece of art related to the East End, usually by a Hamptons or North Fork artist, living or dead, created in any kind of media. Join the conversation by posting your thoughts in the comments below and email suggestions for a future Work on Monday here.

Gold Cenote
David Geiser (b. 1948, lives in East Hampton)
Oil, varnish, leaf, and mixed media on board
72 x 72 inches, ca. 2010

This striking work immediately grabs the viewer with its earthy tones, rich textures and the near-perfect circle that holds it all together. Though it seems clear that Geiser’s painting is mostly about the composition and materials it comprises, his title, “Gold Cenote,” and the circular line suggest something more spiritual is afoot.

Found in the Yucatán Peninsula, cenotes are deep, natural sinkholes that reveal groundwater beneath. These massive holes were often used by ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings and as a source for clean, clear drinking water. And they are typically round, a shape mirrored in Geiser’s painting.

The artist has applied thick layers of media and directed the various oils, varnishes and stains, while also allowing them to settle and flow into one another naturally, creating a certain harmony on his square surface. The circle grounds the piece and gives it context and some kind of spiritual center—much like the cenotes he references.

Just as the cenote was a place to connect men and gods, Geiser’s circle is the binding force that keeps his abstraction and experimentation from falling into visual chaos. With this simple shape, the artist deftly takes command of his process and material, and brings a considered composition into focus.

From here, the viewer is left only to contemplate Geiser’s alchemical magic and travel down the many winding, imaginative paths that could have easily been lost, or never been there at all.

Image of David Geiser’s “Gold Cenote” from Spanierman Gallery, where the painting is available. spanierman.com

David Geiser Gold Cenote

David Geiser “Gold Cenote,” Courtesy of Spanierman Gallery, spanierman.com

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