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Accommodating the Object 

Bosiljka Raditsa and Elizabeth Yamin

Curated by William Corwin

The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation through May 4, 2024

Raditsa and Yamin, alumni of The Painting Center and recurrent collaborators, harness their distinct ruminations on negative space to stunning impact...

exhibition review by Joanna Seifter 4/5/2024

While the title of Bosiljka Raditsa’s The Knots (2023) sounds fairly straightforward on its own, the painting suggests knots as a slouched stack of coils, conspicuously overlapped but never intertwined, while eliminating its essential characteristics like textured string and loose ends. Fellow abstract painter Elizabeth Yamin’s Entrance (noun), Entrance (verb) (2018) features a similar interplay of language and form, assuming the structure of an archway framing an unfamiliar room while embodying the inhabitant’s overpowering presence. 

Juxtaposed with their titles, The Knots, and Entrance (noun), Entrance (verb) calls attention to the absence of visual information that would identify their subjects. In both works, Raditsa and Yamin carefully sculpt negative space. This term typically refers to the emptiness surrounding a form demarcated by its edges, but here it embodies the artists’ thinly obfuscated signifiers that deliberately encourage a more thorough examination. Raditsa and Yamin, alumni of The Painting Center and recurrent collaborators, harness their distinct ruminations on negative space to stunning impact in Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation’s Accommodating the Object exhibition, now through May 4. 

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Bosiljka Raditsa, The Knots, 2023. Oil on wood panel, 30 x 24 in, courtesy of The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation.

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Elizabeth Yamin, Entrance (noun), Entrance (verb), 2018. Oil on canvas, 32 x 27 in, courtesy of The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation.

Variegated shards float through a muted landscape in Raditsa’s 2013 painting Humpty Dumpty. The painting’s oblong shapes, consistently spaced and part of a larger ovular form, evoke the eponymous nursery rhyme protagonist’s own broken body. A closer inspection of the painting reveals that the elliptical structure’s fragments, reminiscent of the interconnected 

and intentional nature of puzzle pieces, are the painting’s background. Instead of painting individual shapes atop a muted background, Raditsa obscures and consumes much of the painting’s forms with circular brushstrokes, allowing its remnants to gently emerge through a cloud of beige mist. 

Humpty Dumpty’s underpainting is made visible around its edges, implying but never fully conveying its subject or greater composition. Raditsa’s invocation of Humpty Dumpty–a nursery rhyme about a cohesive whole shattered to smithereens–and her subversion of the painting’s perspective calls greater attention to what we cannot see, or, more accurately, what we can almost see. She revisits this practice in her 2010 Salice Gone Mad gouache series, delicate willows contorted into wiry branches. Here, Raditsa overlays negative space with diluted dashes of white paint, transforming her subjects by reconfiguring the gouache’s materiality while tantalizing a more complete illustration just beneath its surface. 

Yamin utilizes an analogous technique in her representational drawing Deer Isle Bridge (1978, Image 5), in which she suspends the bridge’s chassis in the paper’s off-white surface, imbuing her linework with the severity of Maine’s ocean gusts. Deer Isle Bridge’s surface is also spackled with texture, derived from Yamin collaging over errant lines, designating additional negative space. Like Raditsa’s, her process alludes to a more realized underbelly with a distorted figure-ground–the East Penobscot Bay water drifts above the bridge and off the pages rather than beneath it. Yamin’s command of collage twists her subject into multiple angles, meaning the titular structure bridges Maine and Little Deer Isle while also bridging the drawings’ edges both vertically and horizontally. 

Perspectival manipulation compounded by enigmatic titles is also present in Yamin’s The Birth of a Small Appliance (2016-19, Image 6). The painting is littered with tools ranging from recognizable, like palette knives and box cutters glinting across the surface, to chimerical, like cogs merging into bent pieces of wire and screws spiraling into fishing bait. Although The Birth of a Small Appliance depicts the artist’s workbench, a continuous surface, Yamin divides it into three panels. The painting’s triptych format, coupled with its religious title and Yamin’s inclusion of angular arched frames, emboldens its subject with a gravitas not typically afforded to still lives of crowded desks. Thus, The Birth of a Small Appliance is suffused with both visual and thematic ambiguity, a less literal form of negative space than Yamin’s but with the same degree of intrigue. 

Raditsa and Yamin pair effectively in Accommodating the Object, as their works are characterized by their bright yet cohesive color palettes, broad brushstrokes, and complex structures. The artists are colleagues of the contemporary art scene, and therefore, as curator William Corwin phrases it, “dialog back and forth in their correlative practices.” Both artists’ approaches to abstraction are marked by their unique interactions with negative space, a similar abstract modality–Raditsa removes components of her paintings, and Yamin divides her painting’s subjects into distinct meanings.

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Elizabeth Yamin, The Birth of a Small Appliance, 2016-19. Oil on canvas, 51 x 99

inches, courtesy The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation.

Bosiljka Raditsa, Salice Gone Mad series, 2010. Four gouache on paper, 12 x 12inches, courtesy The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation.

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