New York

Robert Swain

Robert Swain’s painting is involved, purely and exclusively, with color, with the variety and interaction of color, and with the alternation between color as opaque pigmented surface and as illusionistic light. Swain’s format is relentlessly consistent; for some time now he has divided his canvases into 12-inch squares, each painted flat and precisely with one color. The paintings in this exhibition are either seven or nine squares (i.e. feet) on a side. That’s either 49 or 81 different colors per painting, since no color seems to repeat on a single canvas.

There’s a poker-faced intellectuality to Swain’s format which he subverts through sheer numbers and through the fact that the richness and sensuousness of color increases with the exclusivity and directness of its presentation. Seven rows of seven colors relating in all possible directions can seem almost baroque, and it may be no

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