New York

Murray Reich

Max Hutchinson Gallery

A repeated emblem doesn’t have to go flat as it has for Quaytman. Variations within a familiar context can be made to matter. Rothko, end Morris Louis in his “Unfurleds” succeeded. And Murray Reich is beginning to infuse some of his huge, icon-like paintings with visual dynamism. The central, phallic form he has painted for several years is still too dominant to allow increasing activity on the sides of his canvases to participate fully, but it is beginning to.

In his show at Max Hutchinson, the central image has changed from a strip-poured reflection on blank canvas, overly reminiscent of Louis, to a column flanked by strongly colored areas that often appear to rush downward and off the lower corners of the canvas. His technique has also come a long way from its initial automatism. He still uses the same means to get a working matrix: he pours and spreads pigment on one side of the canvas, then folds it over to reflect it on the other half. Now, considerable alteration takes place after that initial stamping. Colors are changed and whole new areas brushed in. Regions on each side of the center are becoming intricate and more attention is being paid to color relationships across the canvas. As a result, his image is losing its air of mass production and acquiring tension. The flanking areas often balance between their urge to escape to left and right, breaking the painting in two, and the urge to reflect each other across the central band. Color is still too easy and dramatic, but the images are becoming memorable.

Kasha Linville