“Art in Review; Amer Kobaslija,” The New York Times

By Ken Johnson via The New York Times

Large-Scale Studio Paintings
George Adams Gallery
525 West 26th Street, Chelsea
Through Aug. 18

It’s not what you paint, but how you paint. That might be the motto of Amer Kobaslija, a young artist from Bosnia who has a recent M.F.A. degree from Montclair State University. Mr. Kobaslija makes paintings of his studio, a small, windowless, white-walled room of the sort commonly provided to graduate students by state universities. Working on panels joined into diptychs or triptychs measuring up to 7 feet by 12 feet, he paints intensely realistic, exhaustively detailed pictures of the room and its contents as if viewed from a corner near the ceiling.

Because of their near life-size scale, skewed perspectives and convincing spatial illusions, the paintings induce a sensation of vertigo. Mr. Kobaslija’s photographically assisted attention to detail enhances the effect. Draw closer, however, and the illusion collapses into sensuously busy surfaces. Stains, paint marks and footprints on the floors turn large areas into passages of pure painterly abstraction.

The paintings have autobiographical intrigue, too, as the contents of the room, including painting supplies and personal stuff, like clothes, keys, a cellphone, a CD player and food and drink containers, evoke the life of a contemporary artist. (Joe Fig’s miniature models of artists’ studios come to mind.) And there is a spiritual dimension: the studio is like a monk’s cell, a place to practice Zen-like attentiveness to ordinary reality.