Stephen Antonakos: Late Light Gold Works 2010–2013
New York CityLoretta Howard Gallery
November 21, 2019 – January 17, 2020
This past Friday the 13th of December, in the dismal rain, was a deliciously gilded day for anyone who went to Chelsea to contemplate the undismal sheen of these “late light gold works.” Created late in the life of Stephen Antonakos, and luminous, all these radiant outpourings and inpourings of a sun inside a mind shine forth.
The words “crumpled gold leaf” came rushing to my mind instantly as I stood next to the series of Terrains—what a word is “crumpled,” in all its destructive possibilities. Here, its implicit expansions are on display. These stunning works, labeled Terrains, presume a preliminary action of the hand—the “manus”—so this handcrafted display of golden beauty is the result made manifest. As Robert S. Mattison puts it in his truly lovely preface for the catalogue, “Throughout his career, Antonakos had made drawings with cuts, creases, and crumples.” It was always, then, about handling the object. Conferring on it an implicit dynamism, the artist was preparing the terrain for a meditation, and in that Meditation Chapel, of which a 2011 model is included in the show, there are windows to look through, mingling the thought and sight of outside and inside.
The standing white cross by the chapel says exactly what it says, and to this observer, that is one of the true joys of the creations of Antonakos, that there is never over-stating of what is sufficient in itself. Look how the glorious crumplings of gold leaf resound in themselves, even as they project towards us: this is golden speech itself, about seeing as well as hearing. inward and outward, as if this late light were a privilege to be shared with all of us, whatever our age.
We might mindfully sail to Byzantium alongside these works, or within them, as with meditations in some chapel of our own dwelling, or then indwell in some association with the splendidly late but not tragic words about those so early rising sun reds leading to those so resonant latterly gleams.
Not such dismal weather, given the gold of this late light.