new-york

Jake Berthot

David McKee Gallery

Jake Berthot began exhibiting in 1970, at a time when Minimalist abstraction claimed to have purged the murky metaphysics and personal signs associated with Abstract Expressionism. In place of Abstract Expressionism’s vulnerable heroism (or heroic vulnerability), Minimalism codified asceticism and self-abnegation. Although Berthot was an abstract painter, his relationship to Minimalism and its utopian isolationist stance was tenuous. While his work from the late ’60s—the notched paintings—used a framing device to empty space out, their surfaces and hints of light evoked action painting and the subdued presences of Mark Rothko. Berthot’s connection to Rothko is what Goethe called “an elective affinity.” Both are Modernists who believe that paint is a material capable of being endowed with meaning. Consequently, instead of reifying Minimalism’s encoded paradigms, Berthot has tried to discover

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