New York

Marcia Hafif

Sonnabend Gallery

Marcia Hafif showed paintings that are each of one color, and made with a brush, oil paint, and stretched canvas. In what you might call its institutional reduction, her painting concentrates attention on the even passage of a small brush across the surface in little scanning marks, an activity bracketed by the association of a particular color with a particular size of stretcher. The result is work totally committed to post-Minimalism at its most orthodox: a surface that conceals nothing about its construction, and presents itself as time measured in a specific material in a particular format. The paintings exist collectively yet have separate, and unique, identities—which, as someone said to me about a related matter, sounds like a metaphor for liberalism. At no stage does one depart fundamentally from the conditions of seeing proposed by the wall, like the paintings the bearer of a single surface, and one certainly doesn’t speculate about new externally derived terms through which to enter it. That is how her work admits of the priority of the architectural paradigm in one’s experience of the painted object, and why I identify her with post-Minimalism at its most doctrinally classic. In the final analysis, I don’t find that position credible, but Hafif is unquestionably serious about what she does, and I dare say tautology has its own rewards.

––Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe