Critics’ Picks

View of “Structural Solutions,” 2012.

New York

Mark Dagley

Minus Space
16 Main Street, Suite A
September 7 - October 27

Mark Dagley is equally renowned for being a publisher and for playing guitar in the seminal punk bands the Girls and Hi Sheriffs of Blue during the 1970s and ’80s, but given the strength of his current exhibition, he should be best known for being a reductive abstractionist—that is, an abstract artist who approaches painting through its most basic means and language. In keeping with this reductive spirit, the artist is presenting only three works in this exhibition, his first solo New York show in fifteen years.

Lucifer, 2012, is a triangular canvas that reaches from floor to ceiling. It is divided into two triangular zones, one red and one black; on close view, the red visually pushes forward while the black recedes. The second painting, The Mackintosh Variations, 2012, is a handpainted, chromatically flickering, plaid grid that brings to mind tiles or glazed windows. Close up, its handpainted quality appears particularly delicate in comparison with the hard edges and diagonal composition of Lucifer. Finally, reminiscent of his late-1980s video game–inspired shaped canvases, Janet’s Dilemma, 2012, is a long rectangle with a field of baby blue and light yellow diagonal stripes upon which L-shaped notches have been cut out. Positioned on small aluminium blocks and leaned against the wall, these large paintings fill the gallery space both visually and physically.

Dagley has often been called an Op artist; however, he sees optical effects as mere by-products of his work and thus prefers the term “systematic painting” to describe his art, as it evokes an approach based on a system designed for the work rather than on intuitive decisions. Despite this rational proclivity, his work retains a subtlety and visual intrigue often lost in such systematic approaches.