Critics’ Picks

Lawrence Power, Stein X, 2021, oil and collage on canvas, 31 1/2 x 23 1/2".

Lawrence Power, Stein X, 2021, oil and collage on canvas, 31 1/2 x 23 1/2".


Lawrence Power

Laden fuer Nichts
Spinnereistr. 7 | Halle 18
September 18–October 23, 2021

Lawrence Power is a painter of understated craftsmanship. His palette may be spare, but his techniques vary widely, from bands of impasto applied straight from the tube, to expansive translucent sheaths of pigment, to collaged pieces of canvas, coated with thick layers of color or dyed in pale hues. This multifaceted practice lends Power’s work a markedly tactile allure. His formal vocabulary is defined by an edge of deliberate coarseness. It often takes a closer look to recognize that his raw-built minimalism is based on the rudimentary representation of objects he might have bought at a home-improvement store: bricks, tables, shelving, radiators and power outlets, etc. These motifs—invariably objects that can be stored, stacked up, or otherwise arrayed in series—reflect how Power develops his planar compositional style, which lets the beholder read things as things, but always also (and often primarily) as fields of color. His subject matter is underscored by titles: some, like Vorhang (Curtain) (all works cited 2021), matter-of-fact, others, like Concrete Thoughts, teasing out the polysemous undercurrents in the materially specific. The very title of the show, “Stein und Fuge” (Stone and Joint), links one of Power’s signature subjects, the building block, to the construction of the two-dimensional image. The tripartite Useful Things IV spells out the point with literal painted brickwork, while Stein X depicts a single brick, propped on two small rectangular blocks like a canvas in a studio. Power’s interpretation of the conceit is radically flat, filling the canvas with a gorgeously beige-heavy pale orange executed in distinctive, concentrically looped brushstrokes. The two small rectangles along the bottom edge offer a minimal gesture, tinged with irony, toward the representational nature of the composition.

Translated from German by Gerrit Jackson.