New York

William Pettet

Willard Gallery

William Pettet’s previously cloudlike lyrical abstractions, which very often brought to mind a Baroque ascension into heaven, have acquired some structure. The paintings in his most recent one-man show at the Willard Gallery are usually broken into relatively discrete areas, either horizontal, vertical, or slightly diagonal. They seem primarily involved with the tension created by combining different physical surfaces. Smooth opaque areas are juxtaposed to heavily impastoed or poured ones, and both or either of these to areas built up of several translucent layers of color. All three things happen in the weaker paintings in the show and usually in strong or dark colors. In three others, all vertical shapes with vertical bands of color, the areas are almost all faintly translucent, revealing second and third colors underneath. The most interesting painting in the show differs from the rest; it is a wide, vertical rectangle completely painted a strong yellow. The center third is painted in wide horizontal strokes and the two outer thirds in even wider, smoother vertical strokes, all over a darker color which comes through the yellow. It’s the only painting that doesn’t bear a strong resemblance to some natural phenomenon.

––Roberta Pancoast Smith