Pattern of War presents a series of paintings done at the end of a 50-year long career. They demonstrate a highly accomplished painter whose style remained both narrative and expressionistic.
These emotionally charged works offer a tale of devastation and isolation that find their expression in patterning, endless repeat.
Pattern of War indeed poses the modern question, ‘Tell Me How This Ends?”
Leonard Rosenfeld was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1926. After serving in WWII, he studied painting, sculpture and drawing at the Art Students League of New York. He found a place to work near the school and began to paint. By the early 1950s, he was ensconced in the Cedar Bar, the abstract expressionists’ hang-out in Greenwich Village. Clement Greenberg, Willem DeKooning and Allen Ginsberg were in and out of “the Cedar,” as were other abstract expressionists, art critics and beatniks. This was when painters “hung out” together and talked about painting. In 1957, he did “Railroad Drawings.” Martha Jackson showed three of these works in a group exhibition in 1965. In the early 1980s, he exhibited his “rag paintings” in Soho, at the so-called “supermarket,” Ivan Karp’s OK Harris gallery on West Broadway. Most of the 1980s were devoted to his favorite work – “wire paintings.” Other painting series followed (“Graffiti,” “Nuts and Bolts,” “Angels”).
During 2004-2007, he painted soldiers at war, beginning with a portrait of General David Petraeus. He had seen a New York Times book review of “In the Company of Soldiers” by Rick Atkinson. It spoke of the General’s question to Atkinson, “Tell me how this ends?” He was impressed by Petraeus’ question and decided to paint a portrait of him. The picture shows Petraeus as a, then, two-star General and Commander of the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq. To the right of the General’s shoulder are a gun and a wing. The General’s question seemed thoughtful and prescient. At that moment, Rosenfeld started to paint the war in Iraq. No painter he knew or anyone else was painting the story of this event. In 2007 he painted another portrait of the General. This one is entitled, “Et Tu, Petraeus?” Before his death in December 2009 he was creating large pastels – portraits, trains, stripes, stories – searching for the next thing. Thought his 60 years as a professional artist, Rosenfeld produced a broad yet consistent range of work, always pushing the envelope and reflecting the environment and events of his day. He described himself as an Expressionist. In his words, painting “with a weird combination of abandon and discipline.”
La MaMa Galleria
Founded in 1984, La Galleria is a nonprofit gallery committed to nurturing experimentation in the visual arts. La Galleria encourages an active dialogue between new media, performance, the plastic and visual arts, curatorial projects, and educational initiatives. It serves the East Village community by offering diverse programming to an inter-generational audience, and expanding the parameters of a traditional gallery space. As a non-profit, La Galleria is able to provide artists and curators with unique exhibition opportunities that are largely out of reach in a commercial gallery setting.