John Virtue

Lisson Gallery | 27 Bell Street | London

Each of John Virtue’s “Landscapes,” 1981–85, consists of a set of black-ink drawings, mounted in grid formation with no gaps between them. If the grid is a dissipating force, promoting loss of focus and dispelling any prospect of narrative, it also serves to unify; constituent parts are equal in size, and enough landmarks recur in the drawings to convey the impression that this is a single region, crossed and recrossed continually. Houses—sometimes terraced, but more frequently in isolation—are pictured as entire pictorial units, complete with gates, fences, and paths. The viewpoint is never too close; the distances between them matter more than the buildings themselves.

One stylistic feature is a constant puzzle. The density of line is such that only one interpretation is possible: all the drawings are night scenes. Gradually, differences between each grid emerge. Landscape #10, 1982–83,

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