New York

Harvey Quaytman

Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

Harvey Quaytman is more hopelessly hung up in the mystique of shaping than Manny Farber. His paintings have almost relinquished their claim to sculptural relief, but they are still dogged by the characteristic squared-off ‘U’ shape he has attempted to mobilize for at least two years. About a year ago, he almost succeeded—by stretching the ‘U’ into a long, lazy band with real texture on its surface and dull, earthy coloring. Now it is shoved as an afterthought against the bottom of rectangular canvases to which it bears only an artificial structural relationship: the adjoining lower edge of each canvas has been shaped in an irregular, convex curve to complement the ‘U’ on its bottom.

These are perverse paintings. They are lined up on Paula Cooper’s walls like cars of the same model, distinguishable only by their color differences. Their upper sections, the conventional paint surfaces, have been dismissed in broad-brushed horizontal strokes so explicitly casual they seem to deny the artist’s interest in making paintings. At the same time, on the lower, shaped part of the canvases where it is barely detectable, some interesting painting is going on. Handsomely glazed, mottled surfaces with heavy, ridged edges hide out there, reduced to non sequiturs.

Kasha Linville