New York

Bruce Boice

Sonnabend Gallery

Since his last show a couple of years ago Bruce Boice has turned to diagonals and some new colors. His new paintings recall some of Frank Stella’s work of the late ’60s, when he too found new uses for diagonals, found some similar colors, and seemed to reach a certain plateau in the strength of his art. Boice uses a design unit based on the sensed depth (from the wall) of the stretcher, as Stella was one of the first to do. Boice leaves that strip bare, bounding areas of paint. The rough cream or grey-green canvas shows through, demonstrating that the paint is applied on top of something. Boice continues to work in a format of three major units set edge to edge, the one on the left always framed in raw wood (of two colors as well, like the canvas) the other two unframed. The frame elements continue to suggest the hidden stretchers: they are simply plain wood pieces nailed or glued together.

In fact, two or three smaller, triangular or rectangular canvases make up many of the major units, often separating single color areas with the lines of their juncture. The system is a full and engrossing one, and the richer plays of the colors make it seem almost luxuriant, compared with the asceticism of Suprematist-like colors and design which Boice once enjoyed. He is also carrying further the multiple canvas work of the early ’70s, but getting away from flat earthy colors like those of Marden and Ryman while retaining interest in the texture and tone of the surface.

Boice’s new paintings are his richest, most various to date; their insistent gamesmanship takes nothing away from the fascination of first seeing them. Boice has found his own way to produce paintings that at once satisfy the mind and nurture the sensibility. He is one of the most intriguing painters around.

Phil Patton