san-francisco

Karl Benjamin

William Sawyer Gallery

The title Variability and Repetition of Variable Forms would almost seem more appropriate for another show in town, the paintings of Karl Benjamin at the Sawyer Gallery. He has gridded his canvases with twelve six-inch horizontal and vertical blocks and founded the smaller square diagonal grid on the tensions of the other; he has used twelve colors (except one in which the greens and blues are left out to allow the violets to dominate). The first impression is that the grid is an unrelieved waffling of the square, but you soon realize that your own eye is completing the left-out divisions, and in some cases that a few of the divisions are read in by an optical urgency to complete. In only one painting is there an actual hub. The others have disguised centers despite a four-way repetition of multilateral symmetry. This is not apparent except on studied analysis, since one’s eye centers on

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