Richard Pousette-Dart

Obelisk Gallery

POUSETTE-DART, of course, has been at it for a long time. His show at Obelisk, one of the more ambitious galleries on Newbury Street, includes work from the past six or seven years as well as a couple of very recent paintings. All of the pieces exhibitthe artist’s typically rich color-andlight surface, one that I occasionally find physically aggressive and even forbidding. The same is true, I think, of the imagery, which generally consists of single bursts of light that vaporize into their surrounding fields. Frequently, for instance in Night Presence . . . Radiance, Burning III, the burst seems out of scale with the field that contains it, pushing out toward the edges with a force that is overpowering. Given the dense surface of pigment, there is, so to speak, no room for the burst to burst—except out at the viewer. But this keeps the viewer entirely on the defensive and thwarts the contemplative atmosphere that the artist seems to be after.

An exception to this situation is the most recent painting in the show, Presence . . . Imploding Light. The surface is essentially grey and the central burst, which is black, is scaled down to “fit” the rest of the surface. Because of the change in scale, the surface as a whole is able to breathe and also to contain more naturally its own pulsating nucleus. The result is an absorbing optical space.

––Carl Belz