New York

Ira Richer

Kornblee Gallery

Failed painting is as instructive as works the ambitiousness of which has prevailed, provided that the ambitiousness was present at the outset as is the case with a young painter, Ira Richer. I don’t like his work but his method is so lucid as to be an almost diagrammatic test case of the faltering appeal of classical field painting, of the kind codified in the years 1964–67.

Richer employs large horizontal canvases which he divides into four equal fields. Color is applied one to a rectangle and his downbeat color selection—beiges and blues—is perhaps the most admirable aspect of his work. He applies his color in wide, dry strokes forming a lozenge pattern around the quadrant structure. Much of the surface is left unbrushed, producing a puckered mylar optical effect such as we see tangibly in the recent Rosenquists. Through this opticality a dual problem is set up: the field is both established and denied. But to deny the field means to reject the supposed supremacy of the planar and frontal ground and therefore to deny the prerequisites which brought this painting into existence in the first place. To confirm the existence, or virtual existence, of the flat surface Richer proceeds to paint parallel horizontals across the fields, stopping short at those breaks of bare canvas surface. The horizontal stripes are inescapably those of later Noland and I take the synaptic interruptions to accommodate as well to the artist’s desire for scintillating surface. The end result is received information and schizoid.

Robert Pincus-Witten