Many of Mark Knoerzer’s paintings, now up at M Fine Arts Galerie, resemble stained glass, or the view inside a kaleidoscope — whirling, warm colors and radiant patterns, often painted on cut wood panels. The Brooklyn artist coats in epoxy works with titles such as “Splendor” and “Floreo,” giving them a glassy sheen, with soft pastels beneath shifting in concentric circles complicated by floral and stellar designs.
Knoerzer’s aims are symmetry and the heightened pleasure of complex pattern plumped up with color — because, after all, symmetry palls if it doesn’t have complications. Bands of red, violet, and green melt into one another, and in some works, large swaths of color deepen like the sky at twilight, tugging us into a dream of eternity.
There’s much to appreciate in his flawless layers, which he also takes into three dimensions. Creating “Large Cube,” a 32-inch wooden cube with a hole tunneling through the center, entailed laboriously adhering 44 cut panels together. On the remaining two side faces, he has painted a big, sky-blue porthole ringed with glowing tones. With satisfying rhythm, the piece sets up the painterly illusion of deep space with an actual space a child could crawl through.
Knoerzer’s honed color sense, his fascination with space and design, and the pleasures of wood add up to pleasing and harmonious art. But he could, and here and there he does, raise the stakes.
In one of my favorite pieces, “Luminare,” a pale teal circle cut into quadrants lightens at the bottom like the sky over a reflective sea. The white of the wall crosses between them, adding tension; the eye wants to pull them together. But here’s the key: In multicolored arcs along the edge, one small fuchsia section at the top glitters. That gritty, sparkling visual texture stands out against the smooth epoxy, tingling like the memory of a kiss.
Knoerzer throws off consistency with that one gesture. His strategy is to drill down into increasingly layered design. When he breaks out of a painting’s structure, even in a small way, the effect is like Cindy Crawford’s beauty mark, enhancing the whole.
MARK KNOERZER: HALF-LIFE
At M Fine Arts Galerie, 460 Harrison Ave, through Aug. 30. 617-450-0700, www.mfinearts.comCate McQuaid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @cmcq.