Frank Roth

Martha Jackson Gallery

A group of recent paintings by Frank Roth is on view at the Martha Jackson Gallery until October 16th. They seem rather deliberately unlovely, as though the painter were carefully testing some notion of Ehrenzweig’s about art as the defeat of esthetic expectation. The works consist of a dark, inky field with patches of color interrupting this ground and distributed fairly closely across the picture surface, bleeding off the edges. The actual patches which do this interrupting seem at first like brushstrokes, but brushstrokes copied or imitated, as though the neural immediacy of the single stroke were itself locked in imitation. But they are not strokes; they are patches of color made by using torn bits of masking tape to cover the ground in spots while the final ground color is applied, the tape snippets then being pulled off. Where the paint seeps under the edge of the pieces of tape,

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