“The Horizontal”

Cheim & Read
547 West 25th Street
July 6, 2017–August 31, 2017

Al Held, Untitled, 1950–52, oil on canvas on board, 24 x 29".

The poetic use of the horizon for the purpose of abstraction can be traced back to early twentieth-century philosophy, when the founder of phenomenology, Edmund Husserl, took the concept of the horizon as a way to conflate experience with what is lived rather than perceived. This group exhibition expands upon the power of the horizon line in formalist, landscape-inflected imagery.

An oil painting by Jenny Holzer, compromised knowledge, 2014–15, made up of blurred horizontal bands of color appearing to redact faint traces of text on a white background, is strikingly uncanny. A darkly resolute painting by Al Held, Untitled, 1950–52—modest in scale and bereft of his usual brilliant coloration—hangs next to an ink painting by David Smith, ∆Σ 10/19/54, 1954, which bears seven thick swaths of horizontal lines in gloomy gradations of purple and blue. An etching by Richard Serra, Weight I, 2009, looms large; its more than six-foot-high surface is completely covered in dense black ink, except for a thin horizontal white band at the top. Prabhavathi Meppayil’s, Fourteen/Sixteen, 2016, an arrangement of copper wire embedded in white gesso, is stark and electrifying next to a seascape by Matthew Wong, Last Summer in Santa Monica, 2017. Composed of luminous strips of warm hues, Wong’s painting is so minimal that it could easily be passed over were it not for the gauzy trace of a bird in flight and a sun-like orb. This succinct exhibition provides a space where relative histories are subdued, and the experience of a horizon by a singular person is enriched by collective accounts.

Tabitha Piseno