New York

Jake Berthot

OK Harris

Normally “derivative” is a pejorative word, but derivation is the substance of tradition. Jake Berthot’s art is related to the work of painters as distinct as Johns, Motherwell, and Twombly, but it is not merely eclectic. His paintings at O.K. Harris suggest other artists simply because of mutual concerns. When his compositions suggest Motherwell it is because Berthot is also interested in the subdivision of a loosely painted canvas by a simple linear form—in Scrupf (1972), for instance, by an inner rectangle sharing the top edge of the vertical painting with the concrete edge of the canvas, as in Motherwell’s The August Sun and Shadow (1972). Berthot’s muted tonality, his affection for claylike grays and “dead” greens, suggests the mute, zinclike type of Johns, while his flat but painterly numbness even resembles Johns’ encaustics. The works that evoke Twombly are those having impulsive,

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