new-york

Elliott Puckette

Kasmin Gallery | 27th Street

The whole basis for Elliott Puckette’s manner of painting—it cannot yet be called a style—lies in the “paraph,” the apparently decorative flourish added to the signature of a formal document, “originally,” as the OED tells us, “as a kind of precaution against forgery.” In Puckette’s work, this evocation of a nonrepresentational element in writing (on which Sigmar Polke, too, once based a group of paintings) has been accompanied by a reversal of expectations about how writing should appear. Against a black or colored ground, the figure is white, formed by scraping away from a wash of color over a gesso ground. It therefore represents a subtraction from the inky field rather than an addition to it (a reminder that the Greek graphein means both “to write” and “to scratch”). As a result, the figure is the rendering of an already-formalized gesture rather than its immediate embodiment. Here is

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