Critics’ Picks

View of “Orange Grid,” 2013.

Los Angeles

Channa Horwitz

Ghebaly Gallery
2245 E Washington Blvd.
April 13–June 22

Writing in 1976 about drawings from Channa Horwitz’s series “Variations and Inventions on a Rhythm,” Lucy Lippard observed: “Logically they are flat and anchored to the grid, but their transformations implies freedom, the third dimension—space in which to act.” Horwitz herself was anchored to the grid, devoting decades to explorations of that form. In an exhibition suddenly rendered a valediction—opening just two weeks before the artist’s death on April 29—we find brought to the fore that third dimension and space in which to act that Lippard discerned in those early rule-driven, modulating sequential drawings.

Three framed gouaches from Horwitz’s “Language Series,” 1966, greet the visitor. Orange grids on white paper, they hang on the wall of the gallery’s narrow first floor, which serves as an interior mezzanine, overlooking a cube-shaped space below. A set of stairs leads down to the sunken room, whose floor and walls are covered in the same orange-on-white grid. Each of the works on paper contains differently positioned vertical and horizontal axes, suggesting segments of a greater whole. Though owing in some measure to the logic of Euclidean space, this partially glimpsed totality might just as well serve as an image of Horwitz’s career, singular in obsession and long obscured by critical and institutional neglect.

Descending into the midst of the enveloping mesh of painted lines, one feels the work is a culmination rather than a restatement, as if, of course, the “Language Series” had been a blueprint. On the floor sits a set of black fiberboard cubes that one can array, recreating in three dimensions the black squares and rectangles plotted in the paintings. Here Horwitz—and not for the first time—brought out the playfulness hidden in the often pseudo-rationalism of the grid.