Critics’ Picks

View of “Russell Maltz,” 2014.

Miami

Russell Maltz

Alejandra von Hartz Gallery
2630 NW 2nd Avenue
April 10 - June 7

Alejandra von Hartz Gallery
2630 NW 2nd Avenue
April 10 - June 7

Each of the five works installed in the front room of Russell Maltz’s first solo exhibition in Miami is composed of stacked rectangular and square plywood plates suspended in the air by a single steel-post bracket. Their self-reflexive but coded titles refer to materials used and basic production details: “S. P.” in S. P./R#113 (all works 2013) is shorthand for “suspended”; “R” stands for red, the color of the acrylic, enamel, or Day-Glo paint applied to each plate; “#1,” the chronological order in which the work of the series was made in a year; and “13,” the year in which the work was completed.

At first glance, Maltz’s now-decade-long “S. P.” series could be mistaken for the sort of experimentation of color, shape, and size typically associated with Greenbergian formalism. However, the use of industrial polyurethane enamel paint, which has a glossy effect and thereby does not emphasis flatness but depth—as in S. P./BK #113—suggests an interest beyond pure form.

This is even more palpable in the gallery’s rear room, where yellow Day-Glo paint often used in construction is applied to the “S. P.” works. In this room are also loosely organized stacks of cement blocks on the floor, unpainted plywood plates leaning on walls, and aluminum beams standing upright in a corner. Interestingly, all three elements have been left off the exhibition checklist, and intentionally so. It is not that they are not deemed art; they are closer to being more like what Donald Judd referred to as “specific objects.” The exception, though, is that temporality rather than medium specificity is at stake: These raw materials could be incorporated into a future series, or perhaps were even once a part of one.