chicago

Peter Joseph

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)

Peter Joseph’s quiet compositions are stubborn, even annoying in their refusal to be situated in current stylistic modes. They are also resistant to reference or association, and to legibility as texts. Mute to the point of being incommunicado, they seem to revel in unstylish Modernist self-referentiality despite their open forms. In this first American exhibition for Joseph, who is an art-world loner in his own country, England, all 13 acrylic paintings, done between 1973 and 1983, share a similar format: a horizontally or vertically placed rectangle of color within a border of a related hue. The paintings hover between dualities of color, form, and slight proportional variation, and between transparency and opacity. It is easier to describe what these restrained, solemn presences are not than what they are, and it is remarkable that they manage to be compelling and authentic at the same

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