Words/Reviews

ART IN AMERICA      October 2003     by Lance Esplund

Carl Plansky has an enviable facility with oil paint. A single work may be thickly encrusted in places and bare in others, with both running drips and transparent washes. At first sight, his canvases resemble palettes and drop cloths rather than finished compositions. His first one-person show in New York since 1994, "Still Life," consisted of six new easel paintings depicting vases of flowers. In these works, entangled, wet-into-wet swirls struggle within impastoed surfaces, keeping them alive. For Plansky, color is never merely descriptive; it is a whirlwind, whiplash, hell of a ride.

The artist, it seems, always has a story to tell. In his paintings over the years, some of which span 12 feet, enormous figures appear to erupt like volcanoes, and landscapes seem to dissolve into abstractions. This small show offered a taste of what the artist is capable of, but was not representative of his full oeuvre. I would have preferred to see these still lifes in the company of his recent large, ambitious figure paintings.

Sheer physicality--of color, of violent strokes--is the first experience one has when confronted with Plansky's larger-than-life-size flower paintings. I sense that the artist concerns himself with tearing down his compositions as much as with building them up. There is always a tumult beneath the surface. In Peony for B. (2002, 48 by 36 inches), as in others, the flora resemble open wounds; the pulsing mess of the background recalls a stormy sky. The violent twist of the vase has the emotion of a crucifixion and brings to mind Soutine's dead fowl rather than fresh-cut flowers. I wondered, "Is it me, or does each bouquet conjure up St. John's head on a platter?"

Artcritical,  October 5, 2010

 Carl Plansky, the man who loved colors, went beyond the call of duty implied by the term “painter’s painter.”  For besides his authorship of rich, effulgent, exploratory, expressive landscape paintings, floral still lifes, and raucous self-portraits dressed as his favorite operatic divas, Plansky was a master paint maker whose products, marketed as Williamsburg Handmade Oil Colors, are revered by countless painter addicts.  He founded his company when the painter Milton Resnick gave him a mixing machine in exchange for his own private supply.  Since 2000 the company was managed by Carl’s sister Beverly, allowing Carl full time in his studio – with unlimited paint supplies, needless to mention.

Plansky died of a heart attack in the last week of his show of “Divas” at the New York Studio School: the final day of the show served as his memorial.

In June of this year, the redoubtable Golden Artists Colors, whose acrylic paints are held in similar affection by its users as Williamsburg’s oils are by theirs, acquired Plansky’s brand.  They are now celebrating the event with a sumptuously oil-filled show of Plansky and friends, including Resnick, Resnick’s widow Pat Passlof, and customer-friends Jake Berthot, Susanna Coffey, Cora Cohen, Bill Jensen, Margrit Lewczuk (working in acrylics), Judith Linhares, and Mary Jo Vath.

The exhibition, which continues at the Sam & Adele Golden Gallery in New Berlin, New York through November 20, is curated by artist, long-time Golden employee and director of the SAGG Jim Walsh.

Murderers and Metaphors
And other shows worth seeing in New York's galleries
 
By LANCE ESPLUND for The Wall Street Journal, April 11, 2009
Carl Plansky: Oil Paintings
Fischbach Gallery, 210 11th Ave. NYC
Through April 25, 2009
Expressive full-frontal assaults, Carl Plansky's paintings of flower bouquets -- some nearly seven feet tall -- threaten to leap from the canvas and strangle the viewer. Looking at his exhibition of a dozen paintings of bouquets, a hard maple tree and a life-size, nude self-portrait, "Poseidon" (all 2009), is to be immersed in a colorful garden, as well as a pit of writhing snakes. Born in 1951, Mr. Plansky, who claims "the more I see contemporary painting distrust feeling, the more feeling I put into my painting," has feeling enough to spare. And he spares none of it.
For Mr. Plansky, who wrestles every form into being, a rose is a leaping flame or a serpent on Medusa's head -- but, a realist at heart, his rose is, ultimately, still a rose. I am not completely convinced that Mr. Plansky's flowers -- his glass vases of wildflowers, roses and lilies, his flurries of brushwork reminiscent of Joan Mitchell's abstractions -- need to be blown up to mural scale, dimensions that compete with their naturalism. The artist, obviously, is of differing opinion. And he may be right. Although his smaller, life-size bouquets may be more manageable and believable, they are also more conventional. The mammoth bouquets, beautifully strident, are more daring, convincing and engulfing as works of art.

 Mr. Esplund writes about art for the Journal.