Contemporary Art

The Manic, Mesmerizing Work of Abstract Painter Bill Komoski

By Sotheby's
Bill Komoski’s abstract paintings use mesh, grids, veils and other surface effects to produce complexly layered works. A trip through Artforum ’s archive reveals an painter praised by critics and artists alike.
Portrait of Bill Komoski by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. Collection of MOMA and MFAH.
A review for Bill Komoski ran in the January 1983 issue, which features Barry Le Va, During (Between Imagination and Actuality) (detail) on the cover.

“[Bill] Komoski is an arrogant virtuoso,” barked critic Donald Kuspit in the pages of Artforum on the occasion of the painter’s 1983 solo exhibition at Gladstone Gallery. Describing the artist’s hand as “a sort of modified expressionist spill, controlled to the point of swagger,” Kuspit, who had reservations about the show overall, unabashedly praised him as “ingenious” and “a master craftsman” (January 1983 Issue).

Known for the “almost purely visual nature of his work” (Summer 1989 Issue) – for canvases that were “simultaneously manic and mesmerizing” (September 1991 Issue) – Komoski was born in 1952 and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1981, his work was presented as part of the now-legendary New York/New Wave exhibition at P.S. 1 alongside that of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kathy Acker, Greer Lankton, Kenny Scharf and Larry Clark, and other rebel-luminaries. Since then, he has shown at Ealan Wingate Gallery and Turner and Byrne Gallery in New York, as well as the infamous Hallwalls in Buffalo, to name only a few.

The opening of Mike Kelley's "Foul Perfection: Thoughts on Caricature" essay in the January 1989 issue .

Throughout the years, it hasn’t only been critics who took note of Komoski’s superlative paintings, but fellow artists too. In Mike Kelley’s seminal essay of 1989, “Foul Perfection: Thoughts on Caricature,” he cites Komoski, alongside Lari Pittman and Carroll Dunham, as prime examples of the organic abstractions being produced by his generation.

Artforum covers, images of interior pages and quotations are used with the permission of Artforum International.

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