Raymond Saunders

Galerie Resche

In the paintings of Raymond Saunders, black is a world. Not the mystico-cerebral universe of Ad Reinhardt, or the folk-historic reality of Jacob Lawrence, but an encyclopedic world of visual encounters: with still fifes and greeting cards, with children’s drawings and book illustrations, with graffiti and Japanese calligraphy, with memory and chance. It is the world of an African-American wanderer who claims (with reason) that he can make the color “sing.”

For Saunders, the vast black surfaces on which he works—usually painted canvases but also blackboard slabs—function not as neutral backgrounds but as active components in the play between drawing, painting, collage, and assemblage. Though the immediate effect is akin to the random accumulation on city walls, with its layers of imagery, there is, in fact, nothing very random about Saunders’ work: far from recreating disorder he imposes an

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