Ian Davenport

Waddington Custot Galleries

Clement Greenberg made no bones about the fact that he considered Jules Olitski to be the best painter alive. Judging by the reception of Ian Davenport’s first show, one might be led to believe that Olitski has a new contender on this side of the Atlantic. Davenport’s rise to prominence in the space of one year has been meteoric by any standard. The question is whether the star will turn to dust—whether these suave, curiously impenetrable gray and black paintings are the ghosts of energies past, or the trajectories of an as yet unfamiliar life whose body may not yet be fully formed but is already lusty.

There is no doubt that Davenport has mastered the language of Modernist painting—he can pour and drip with the best of them. Some of the early work was more colorful, and the dripping and pouring more haphazard (or so it seemed). Now Davenport’s excitement with material and its fluidity is

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