New York

Martin Canin

Graham Gallery

The hot end of the rainbow glowed from the walls of the Graham Gallery during Martin Canin’s first New York show. In his large scale oils Can-in lines up narrow one-half to one-inch luminous strips, graduated from pale yellows through sunny golds to hot pinks or tangerine orange. He phases these bands in irregular sequences, and boxes them in at the top and bottom edges of the canvas, so that a succession of concentric, rectangular “coffins” take shape out of the melting radiance. All of the gold and orange-keyed paintings emit a soft, suffused, buttery light, while the small felt pen drawings and three other canvases, done in predominantly purple and magenta-pink or lime and turquoise, deal with harsher, more fluorescent complements. As opposed to the rippling heat and brightness of the yellow works, in which many of the stripes are left open ended, Night Town has a more pungent resonance. It contains three of these boxed areas, suggesting doorways which lead mysteriously back inwards.

In most of the paintings the gradated colored bands and concentric vertical boxes are rhythmically disposed, irregular in spacing rather than symmetrically rigid, but there is a repetitive predictability about the whole set. Even though attractive and ably executed, these works lack the substance which might raise them above the level of simply decorative contrivance. Actually some of the small drawings, concerned with the optical flicker of contrasting bands of color, and with diagonal, openly spaced configurations were more interesting than most of the paintings—although they too tended to peter out into simple exercises in design.

Emily Wasserman