Critics’ Picks

Skyler Brickley, Untitled, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 89 x 50".

Skyler Brickley, Untitled, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 89 x 50".

New York

Skyler Brickley

Marvelli Gallery
526 West 26th Street Second Floor
January 9–February 13, 2010

Nearly every work in this small exhibition contains several, vertical rows of rough quadrilaterals––the syncopated fruits of Skyler Brickley’s roller. The tension between the rote, serial application of paint by roller and each canvas’s subtle variation adumbrates an interesting postscript to some of the fundamental questions related to modernist painting with regard to autonomy and originality. To what extent, that is, may these canvases be said to derive from his “hand”?

Those issues are further underscored by the canvases’s surfaces, both slick and pocked (derived from the raised bumps of Brickley’s paint tray) and resembling benday-derived newsprint. The handful of works featuring black and colored paint (rather than simply black and white) evince a further affinity with silk-screened surfaces, seeming to capture some blurred photographic incident. Yet their unrelenting abstraction foils any search for the iconicity with which we have come to associate that (eminently Warholian) medium. Like smeared film stills or motion studies, the canvases betray only a faded memory or intimation of eventness.

When juxtaposed side by side, however, the black-and-white works take on an appearance greater than the sum of their abstracted parts, cohering into a kind of cityscape. Here, the subtle, varying shades of their black and white intervals suggest a nocturnal forest of glowing Gotham edifices.