New York

Darby Bannard

Darby Bannard’s exhibition at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery consists of six large horizontal canvases of identical size. Immaculate and precise, the compositions are similar aggregations of irregular polygons whose sides are arcs of immense circles, circles much larger than any single canvas. Some looking at the pictures makes it clear that each composition is in fact geometrically so determined. On this conceptual basis rests the surface design of anonymous smooth color areas whose tonal harmony sets the mood of each painting.

Four of the pictures are members of a series titled Blue Florida. Hung in pairs opposite one another they radiate an anaemic lyricism. Another pair, Red Rose #1 and Yellow Rose #8, attempt to send a spark down the long axis of the gallery whose end walls they decorate superbly. In all these works the colors are, with few exceptions, pastels; pinks, taupe, greens, beige, yellow, heliotrope, blue, mauve, and peach. Red Rose #1 alone seems robust in this company with its blushing pinks and clear red. Along with the forms defined by intersecting curves, the effect of the colors is very much like the Helion of the ’30s; civilized to the point of etiolation.

Bannard’s total disavowal of any but the principles of fanatical tidiness and Necco-wafer sweetness prevents his paintings from stirring much feeling beyond an absent-minded approval of his remarkable craft. Besides, dynamic relationships of color or form initiated in one section of his compositions are not resolved, but negated in other sections by perfectly complementary arrangements. The result is a total lack of any tensile equilibrium, but there is stasis––inertia, in fact. Because of their supreme refinement and attenuated tastefulness these works constitute a near incitement to vandalism. How really marvelous a good ineradicable schmutz would look on any one of them!

––Dennis Adrian