New York

Marcia Hafif

Sonnabend Gallery

Marcia Hafif has covered 12 untitled rectangles of drawing paper, sizes ranging from 25 1/2“ x 40” to 6’ x 30’ with thousands of pencilled lines roughly parallel and one to two inches in length. Like most right-handed persons’ handwriting on unruled paper, the lines slant to the right and gradually slope downhill. But this tranquility is disturbed by a sprinkling of simple geometric and biomorphic forms, about the size of a fist, also in pencil, throughout the drawings. The forms preceded the lines, and have affected nearby lines like so many weak magnets, causing them to point in angles deviant from the right-thinking held.

The resemblance is to a species of doodle nationally generated in study hall. Indeed, at P.S. 1 Hafif carried on her absorption in discipline and disobedience by covering a room’s blackboards with the best Palmer handwriting, to tell a pornographic tale of more detail than passion. The more abstract information at Sonnabend also works its variations: greater pressure to pencil has darkened lines on some drawings, and sometimes sawtooth evidence reveals the pencil actually wasn’t lifted from the paper at all.

In her casein monochromes, not on exhibit here, Hafif applied tiny parallel brushstrokes onto canvas, wood panels and triptychs, and directly onto the wall. She grinds her own pigments, omitting commercial additives such as wax and stabilizers, resulting in an unpredictable surface, with patches altered in tone or texture.

Modulating accreted units through pencilled forms or irregular paint introduces figuration or programmed accidents to the kind of intense repetition found in On Kawara’s date paintings or Sol LeWitt’s series of wall drawings. Not bad. But the mildness of Hafif’s stab at it dissipates the gesture to a shrug.

Barbara Baracks