New York

Andrew Tavarelli

Fischbach Gallery downtown

Andrew Tavarelli’s paintings get better, I find, the more one looks at them. They are helped in this by being a bit rough in execution, which reduces their tendency to be seductive, as so much painting that relies on ’60s chromaticism is. Like the sculpture of Anne Truitt, some of Tavarelli’s paintings appear to have something to do with the Constructivism-qualified-by-Matisse esthetic of Ellsworth Kelly. Also with the idiosyncratic use of the stretcher’s edge developed in the mid-’60s work of Jo Baer. But I am most interested in an aspect of Tavarelli’s work that doesn’t refer to either of these artists. This is his use of an image that has little to do with color, and much more to do with using paint to propose different levels of concealment.

The painting in the show that does this is distinguished from the others by its lack of color-induced spatiality, and its more overt use of a grid. Horizontally ordered, this painting is divided by a dark green L shape, whose vertical arm is slightly wider than its horizontal. On the right of the painting, bordered at the left and the bottom by the L shape, is a grid that’s partially painted out. On the left there’s a grid—not absolutely continuous with the other, but, rather, responsive to the cropping that seems to occur at the bottom of the dividing shape—that’s almost completely disappeared. Both of the gridded areas are painted with the same whitish color, and what’s fascinating about the work is that Tavarelli has managed to make both halves of the painting maintain the same degree of frontal emphasis. One would expect the painting to “intense“ more in one part than the other, but it doesn’t. Tavarelli’s work seems very diverse at the moment, which makes it difficult to articulate an adequate response to it as a whole. Some of his paintings seem very weak—academically eclectic—and one or two pieces, such as the one I’ve just described, are very strong. I look forward to seeing what he’s going to do next.

Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe