New York

Robert Barry

Leo Castelli Gallery - Downtown

After forays into image and color, association and evocative presentation, in such works as The Seasons Robert Barry has gone hermit again. He showed a number of exceedingly immaculate drawings, rather large, all white, with inscribed rectangles in pencil. On, in, or around these rectangles were word series in pencil, stencil, and Letraset. As an experience, it was definitely of the sensory deprivation type. Hinting at various personal responses by word nudging is an exercise I equate with early-’60s pseudo-Haiku and concrete poetry. Barry gives us the large blank interior of the drawings to project upon, but it looks like a chance to play all-in-the-head TV.

I was taken with only one drawing. In one corner, “place” was near “there.” Not much, but it did give a kind of semantic concreteness to the affair. The entire inventory of words in this particular drawing was: place. intend. off. beginning. about. stop. then. view. around. there. There was the added interest of blue lettering, irrational and superfluous, but I was pleased for that very reason. In a way, I thought the drawings would be most suited to being looked at flat on the floor or table, as the words were laid out in a gameboard fashion, like the properties in Monopoly. But this gamelike situation seemed forced and unnatural; it did not last long, and the person with me didn’t want to play. Privateness has always been paramount in Barry’s work, but this mute exposition of unactivated word pointing was deadly and underdeveloped.

––Jeff Perrone