Kay Rosen


Kay Rosen’s syntactical paintings are covered with words. Here she showed six recent works, all done in enamel sign paint on canvas, all in the same small, square format. All of them feature four short rows of words or names in white or brightly colored boldface sans-serif italic against fields of solid black. In each work a narrow margin matches the hue of the words. Rosen’s carefully painted Futura typography looks very similar to that used in Barbara Kruger’s critical rhetoric, but the resemblance is strictly formal. Rosen’s interest is more in language itself, in the tension between the discrete meaning of the syllable and the transformation of sense that develops from its arrangement into words and sentences. To that end she scales her words so as to make the sides of these canvases serve as interrupting margins, forcing word breaks that change the meaning of the text.

In John Wilkes

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