Critics’ Picks

William Daniels, Untitled, 2013, oil on board
41 3/4 X 38 1/2".

New York

William Daniels

Luhring Augustine | Chelsea
531 West 24th Street
June 29 - August 23

William Daniels’s new psychedelic paintings build on his ongoing methodical study of materiality, light, and form with paint. The show’s eight oil-on-board works were developed via Daniels’s three-part process that begins with building maquettes—for this series, aluminum foil arches—then photographing the models and finally reproducing the photos with paint. The results are richly articulated quasi-Photorealist depictions of light, space, and contour, as the refracted gleam of crinkled foil takes shape in high relief against a vibrantly reflective backdrop.

Like the Impressionists and California’s Light and Space artists, Daniels has built his career transcribing light: “Painting by its nature is just painting light,” he has said. Tessellated and prism-like, Daniels’s expressive marks revere the plastic nature of paint and color. Yet his work is fundamentally classical in its adherence to illusionism—each color is rendered precisely as Daniels sees it. The still lifes of foil arches capture thousands of moments of light traveling across reflective material in vibrating planes: Pictures of surfaces are patched together in mosaics, seemingly collaged along critical edges to inform the structure of each faceted aluminum bend.

Daniels’s sharp paintings encapsulate relatively identical viewpoints and compositions (there are two variations—dynamic arcing coils and dome-like windows through one fractured plane to another), and the arches manifest their own pulsating space, rhythmically repeating across each picture only to pick up again in the next. Large on the gallery walls, each arch may as well be a magnified shoebox diorama, and this distortion of scale enhances their Eliassonian otherworldliness: One’s eye must adjust to fully understand each picture’s space, which reads at first like a Magic Eye stereogram but then visually expands beautifully into a landscape within itself.