Debra Dawes

Mori Gallery

Are Debra Dawes’ paintings geometric abstractions, or are they critiques, one step removed? Because her recent exhibitions have reviewed the history of Modernist abstraction, the current “Houndstooth” series (all works 1991) presents itself as a riddle. The artist’s distance from her models is disconcerting, and is symptomatic of the widening gulf between the twentieth century and its present remainder. At the same time, Dawes’ black and white rectangles offer themselves as objects of self-sufficient contemplation. The Large Verticals resist simple appreciation, promoting a state of bodily awareness similar to the experience of Minimal art, but this is, in turn, bracketed by the particularly self-conscious character of Dawes’ manufacture.

All of these works are based on structures so familiar that they cannot be read as anything other than clichés: squares, or asymmetrical divisions of a

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