PRINT November 1990


THE SMOOTH, IMPENETRABLE SURFACES of David Reed’s paintings, the precisely placed overlaid rectangles that articulate the play of composition within each piece, the carefully pitched color, all combine to give them an effect of monumentality—a quality of being both timeless inevitable. But their swirling forms, seemingly self-generating, repeated across the long expanses of Reed’s narrow canvases—occasionally vertical and pillarlike, more often the wide horizontal sweep of Cinemascope—suggest anonymous decor, with the rhythmic, reassuring sameness of pattern: craftlike, unpretentious, and enduring. Evoking both the elevated and the everyday, the work draws on the social utility, authorial anonymity, and seeming inevitability of public art.

At the same time, the splashy figures in Reed’s paintings—which he produces by moving large palette knives in broad gestural strokes through wet paint—evoke

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