New York

Susan Rothenberg

Sperone Westwater

Though superficially the resemblances are few, Susan Rothenberg’s new paintings kept reminding me of her Mondrian homages of the mid ’80s. Only when it struck me that the off-center, off-angled card table in Red Poker, 1996–97, would make an ideal shape for an Ellsworth Kelly did the import of this recollection finally dawn on me: many of Rothenberg’s new paintings revolve around what has emerged as a pivotal issue of how to incorporate geometry as a vehicle to impose pictorial order.

The problem is an important one for Rothenberg because, as her paintings become more complex, they cry out for a perspicuous organizing principle. She obviously doesn’t have Robert Ryman’s option of modulating a pure flow of texture, nor does she seem capable of implying an underlying order amidst a welter of crunching disjunctions, like Robert Colescott. Rothenberg wants the basic marks out of which her images

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