An arctic wind blows through this exhibition by Montreal artist Pierre Dorion. It’s not the AC, but the icy reserve of his photorealist paintings, depicting ostensibly unremarkable architectural details.
Dorion pares down his subjects, often to the point of abstraction. Blind, a close-up of a shuttered white security gate, resembles a zippy Agnes Martin canvas of horizontal stripes. Office’s seemingly anonymous wall with four windows—rigorously flat except for nuances of highlight and shadow—ultimately becomes recognizable as part of Shainman’s 20th Street space. We can identify a few other images as well, such as Untitled (FS), a view of two cold, gray adjacent rooms crossed by yellow and blue diagonal lines. Dorion based it on his photos of Fred Sandback’s Minimalist rope sculptures in a 2012 show at David Zwirner.
This attention to art-world details suggests an institutional critique of one sort or another, but the artist’s concerns seem less hermetic than subtly emotional. The small, exquisite La Chambre Rouge II depicts an empty corridor or a vestibule, a liminal space with a doorway on one side. Bright light rakes in and, together with its reflections on the red walls and violet floor, creates an illuminated cruciform shape, lending the interior an achingly delicate spiritual charge.
Chilly, nearly glacial, Dorion’s approach results paradoxically in a slow burn. His work responds to our moment of overwrought art with refreshing restraint.—Joseph R. Wolin