Critics’ Picks

Daniel Rich, View from the Palisades, 2018, acrylic on Dibond, 42 x 32".

New York

Daniel Rich

Peter Blum Gallery
176 Grand Street 2nd Floor
April 13 - May 26

One of the newest paintings in Daniel Rich’s show here is based on the prototype by Caddell Construction Co. for Trump’s proposed wall between Mexico and the United States. View from the Palisades, 2018, depicts the bottom half of the design in an almost Op art style—the scintillating pattern of a fence, mountains, and sky—suggesting that the divide is a fractured, and certainly fractious, illusion.

The president’s immigration measure is simplistic and stupid. But Rich’s process for making paintings of imposing manmade edifices is anything but. First, he sources an image, adjusts it for desired scale, prints it in black and white, and then traces it onto an aluminum panel covered with transparent vinyl. He redraws his traced imagery with an X-Acto knife and peels off the cutouts to paint in each section with a squeegee. His ruthlessly graphic eye produces tableaux full of dizzying quadrilaterals. It gives his works a vibrating energy, even though people are nowhere to be found in his pictures. Not one human silhouette is visible throughout the hundreds of windows in the cityscape Beijing, 2014, while only the ghosts of spectators occupy the seats in Stadium, Pyongyang, 2018. The absence renders the artist’s urban environments as impersonal—even terrifying. Only through his titles can we identify the specific places on which these generic-looking scenes are based. Politics materialize quietly but palpably in our built environments.