New York

Barbara Coleman and Galeyn Remington

It is Loving’s sense of joie de vivre which determines the impact of his pieces. What I mean is perhaps clarified by examining the works of Barbara Coleman and Galeyn Remington, who also stress painting’s materiality. Coleman concentrates on the thereness of the paint itself. Her thick tubular oozes of plastic paint become relief shapes which highlight the textural three-dimensionality of paint. Color serves a decorative function subordinate to the physical presence of its substance. Remington, on the other hand, asserts the objecthood of the support with her rolling and overlapping surfaces of clear acrylic. Even though the plastic is transparent, visually it is still a tangible framework since the brushstrokes of color tend to reiterate its contours. As with Coleman, the choice of hue seems arbitrary, for the color’s opticality is unrelated to its material medium. The question raised in my mind by both Remington’s and Coleman’s works is whether formalist problems in themselves are sufficient as content. One might recall Insley’s criticism of the use of “material for the sake of material.” The narrow focus on the nature of the art medium converts a means into an end. The results are tautological in their self-referential dialogue which retains significance only within a rarefied art context. Perhaps the depersonalization of art solutions is the issue. Remington’s and Coleman’s works seem academic to the extent they are predictable answers to tired questions. I’m not advocating hyperstated individuality, a super ego trip. It’s more a case of commitment, of reformulating the questions in terms of personal values rather than simply accepting conventional dictation.

––Susan Heinemann