new-york

Gary Stephan

David Whitney Gallery

Gary Stephan’s work at the Whitney is a reminder that it is currently easier to make art about painting than it is to make good paintings. Stephan’s work might be quite strong if it left us some doubt that it is not painting. What Stephan does is make irregular patterns of colored shapes in polyvinyl chloride. They hold together thanks to the cohesive nature of the material and hang unsupported from the wall. Apparently the last step in making these pieces is cutting holes in the various colored shapes, holes which often echo the shapes they penetrate and which allow the wall to show through in discrete areas.

These compositions seem to be very carefully thought out despite their slapdash look. The shapes are layered according to color; in one piece, for instance, the pink shapes are overlapped by shapes of every other color and gray shapes overlap every other color. This way of ordering

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