New York

Ed Kerns

Rosa Esman Gallery

Ed Kerns’ work over the past few years has been characterized by a brutal, perhaps primitive approach to the canvas. Again, in his latest paintings, he gashes and sutures the canvas plane, at once destroying and reclaiming its surface. That fine line separating pain and penance in Judeo-Christianity has for Kerns always been the esthetic struggle between the additive and the subtractive, the perpetual seesawing between ritualistically inflicting paint and form upon a canvas and absolving it.

In the new work, having already mastered the manipulation of his layered and “darned” surfaces as well as the use of ancient colors—dusty whites, pasty whites, terra cottas resembling old meat and stanched blood—Kerns has introduced a starkness born out of a sharp contrast between black and white. Black, when set down with such intensity and contained in such sharply bounded form as it is here, has a

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