San Francisco

Sam Tchakalian

Modernism Inc.

In the mid ’60s, when he was in his 30s, Sam Tchakalian hit upon the economically inflected abstract idiom that has served him ever since. It’s true that the basic look of his latest paintings is practically indistinguishable from the look of those of ten, or even twenty years ago, but a stabilized design—in Tchakalian’s case, of reduplicative troweled-on, canvas-wide bands of solid and/or blended color—needn’t imply any dearth in the ideas-and-passion department. Tchakalian has his design motif down pat the better to intuit and locate his passion; at least, that, rather than a sameness, is what you see when his pictures accomplish their utmost, with no loose ends.

Of the ten paintings and nine mono-prints in this show, all done between 1983 and ’87, roughly half reveal original ways that mellifluously applied knifeloads of two or three close-keyed colors can modify or heighten their mutual

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