Critics’ Picks

Stanley Whitney, Bodyheat, 2012, oil on linen, 96 x 96".

Stanley Whitney, Bodyheat, 2012, oil on linen, 96 x 96".

New York

Stanley Whitney

Team Gallery | Grand Street
83 Grand Street
April 11–May 12, 2013

Stanley Whitney’s paintings are not so easy to describe, because they foreground color, and color is not so easy to define. It routinely divides opinion and evades certainty, and so is available for infinite exegesis. It is both elemental—as seen here in its physicality as painted surface—and abstract in its potential to awake thoughts and feelings. Bodyheat, 2012, a ninety-six-by-ninety-six-inch painting, awaits visitors in the smaller, rear room in Team’s Grand Street gallery. Its impact is to double down on the already concentrated presence of color in seven paintings installed in the main space. The effect of intense color in a more confined space is still surprising, both dramatic and intensely pleasurable.

The exhibition takes its name from the painting, Other Colors I Forget, 2012, which pulsates with a wide range of tones—some radiant, others subdued—all amassing with both urgency and playfulness. The hues combine and interchange across the painting, resisting stasis. The viewer participates in this process as the eye moves and new constellations of color take prominence. Pinks and olives are alternately elbowed or caressed by stable reds or loud yellows. The geometries of grids and stacks allow color to register borders or proportions. Together, the vertical and horizontal shapes of the grid, the paintings’ edges, and the visible paths of a brush that occasionally leave drips of paint are crucial in identifying and adjusting spatial relationships. The exhibition contains paintings even more eventful, complex, and open than is usual for this artist, who is clearly expanding the field of possibilities for his work, without agenda or pretense.