Critics’ Picks

Rebecca Shore, Untitled (15-04), 2015, acrylic on linen, 20 x 16".

Rebecca Shore, Untitled (15-04), 2015, acrylic on linen, 20 x 16".

New York

Rebecca Shore

Derek Eller Gallery
300 Broome Street
November 18–December 23, 2021

A double take is a delayed reaction to an unexpected or significant situation after an initial failure to notice anything out of the ordinary. This moment of surprise underscores Chicago artist Rebecca Shore’s New York solo debut. Upon first inspection, the five paintings on view appear mechanically designed and bilaterally symmetrical. The press release warns of “symmetry being violated” and “patterns subtly breaking down.” Yet when one notices the first blip in these imperfect systems, one is in for a bit of a shock—kind of like when you initially discover that your eyes are actually two different sizes.

No need to panic, the six “eyes” in Untitled (17-14), 2017, aren’t identical in size either—though you could be forgiven believing that they were. Shore’s method of composition has a way of both exploiting and negating the cognitive process of pattern recognition. The human brain tends to equate information being received with data already stored in the memory, sometimes filling in details that aren’t there. Shore’s careful arrangements of flat, evenly spaced, quasi-familiar motifs lull you into a false sense of understanding. When the mind registers twelve perfect circles placed in ostensibly perfect-mirrored harmony, it completes the picture accordingly. One doesn’t expect the other exactingly rendered orbs to fall out of line, until they do. Herein comes the double take.

It happens again once your retinas adjust to the sophisticated opticality unfolding in many of Shore’s pictures that, even in the post-Covid world of Zoom and online openings, necessitates in-person viewing. The effect is often revealed slowly, such as in the barely differing shades of green that flank the central figure in Untitled (17-14). Other times it is more pronounced, as we see in the scintillating red-and-orange grid at the heart of Untitled (15-04), 2015. In his book Interaction of Color (1963), Josef Albers highlights the psychophysical potential of color, which can offer a “surprising discrepancy between physical fact and psychic effect.” Shore vividly distills the gap between the real and the imagined, engendering a near-reflexive urge to look again. And again.