New York

Leon Polk Smith

Jason McCoy Gallery

“Geometrical abstraction” often tends toward the iconic. It seeks reduction to a contemplative essence that can monopolize the viewer’s attention. Such works—Ad Reinhardt’s black paintings, for instance—rebuff close hanging, all the more so when it comes to similar works by a single artist. So perhaps Leon Polk Smith had a point to make by crowding two not-very-large rooms with no less than sixteen substantial paintings (some of them already seen at his 1995–96 retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum) made between 1990 and 1994, for what sadly turned out to be the last solo show of his life. These works are dynamic and expansive but never in a self-aggrandizing or overbearing way, so that they can rub shoulders, even jostle one another without getting bent out of shape.

Common to all but two of the earliest paintings collected here is a contraction of pictorial means to lines (generally black

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