new-york

Robert Petersen

Sonnabend Gallery

Is there anything left to do within the traditional conventions of reductive abstraction? I wonder why Robert Petersen paints a painting white onthe ends and black in the center (that’s it) like a blow-up of a magazine reproduction of a Newman. Some of the paintings are paralyzed by their division into four squares—one horizontal and one vertical through the midpoint makes four—all determined by the facts of the support (or course). The visual “interest” appears in certain areas which go from more to less black. Other than implying that paintings can supply feeble illusionisms, I don’t know what to make of them. The lack of detail in Petersen’s paintings forces you to search everywhere for signs of life. You end up examining the sides (no doubt to underline the object character of painting). The sides sometimes do and sometimes do not continue with the black of the front; when they do,

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