New York

Mario Yrisarry

O.K. Harris Gallery

Mario Yrisarry included examples of all his recent manners—or techniques—in his latest show at O.K. Harris. Each painting is square and divided into a grid. The variety is in the ways he fills the grid with color. There are paintings whose grid squares are filled with solid color, sometimes as smoothsurfaced as he can make it, sometimes intentionally but still faintly nuanced. In other paintings, the squares are filled with a looping or a zigzag line. In others, the grid is established by spiraling lines which cross at right angles as they move from one edge of the canvas to the other. Most of these variations are given changes in scale and tonal intensity from painting to painting within a series.

Yrisarry uses the same seven hues over and over, always arranging them according to the same pattern. The pattern starts along an edge and works inward, creating a complex, usually indecipherable motion whose effect is one of focus, of formal balance anchored by centrality. A related and supporting focus is given by his method of applying color. Working with an air gun and without any other mechanical aid, he achieves his regular surfaces and patterns through an intense physical concentration—he matches the conceptual, supra-personal clarity of his grid and his color patterns with a personal, almost bodily response. The aspect of handwriting in his work draws him toward the extenuated “painterliness” of Agnes Martin and Cy Twombly. The regularity of his format draws him toward Constructivism and serial painting. The issue is the startling survival of the minute particularities of his hand in the tensions created by this double direction. This survival establishes a personal presence owing nothing to the traditional painterliness which has supported so much Western painting. Yet this presence owes nothing either to the rejection of painterliness: his patternings are not traditionally linear, not really hard-edge except to the most literalizing viewer. Yrisarry’s works and his presence in them tend to elude the alternatives of Western painting. His art verges on the meditational.

Carter Ratcliff