new-york

Michael van Ofen

Rubenstein/Diacono

It took only a glance at Michael van Ofen’s first exhibition in the U. S. to peg him as one of Gerhard Richter’s former pupils. What identified van Ofen as such wasn’t simply his evident concern with the relation between painting and photography, the slippage between abstraction and representation. More important is the way such essentially formal concerns can be seen as a means of registering the weight of history through reticence and distance, through an “objective,” methodical approach that might just as easily have fallen into solipsism. The paintings in this show (all works untitled, 1992) were in fact exercises, recklessly courting academicism. Representing land or cityscapes, and unpopulated architectural interiors, they were, in the first instance, lessons in tonalism.

By painting each image with only one color and controlling shading by adding more or less white to the blend in

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