New York

Niele Toroni

John Gibson Gallery

American artists of both sexes will have problems with the single brushstroke paintings of Niele Toroni because it’s difficult to fit him into any category. Toroni has been doing the same thing for the past seven years—exactly the same thing! In Bernar Venet style of a five-year strategy and then out, Toroni’s only difference is he’s serving life with the system he adopted in 1967. But times have changed. If he’d shown these paintings in 1967, the reception might have been different. Throughout those seven years separated from dramatic developments in the States Toroni has used a static system to paint by. Static, in the sense that although there might be variables of location or material, the principles stayed the same. Toroni’s system is that he uses the same size brush to make single marks, the same distance apart, on any available material. That’s it! Claiming no emotional preference for color Toroni chose a No. 50 brush in 1967 and he’s been repeating its mark at regular 30 cm intervals on different surfaces, including both canvas and walls, ever since. (I take this on trust.)

Toroni still comes up with nice things, almost in spite of a system unfortunately accepting architecture as part of its ideology. (One painting “jumps” a door, and another “folds” on the floor doing dire things to the rigor of the brush-marks.) Toroni though has one very nice big red painting about 6 feet by 15 feet on white, unstretched cotton duck. Casually tacked to the wall, with lines of red gloss marks (No. 50 brush at 30 cm intervals, of course), it makes the show well worthwhile. You don’t care what generated it. Visually it takes you on to other levels. I also like the smaller paper pieces in the back room, and even more the small books of single marks. I wonder what part of Toroni’s system decides the size of a work?

James Collins