New York

Fiona Rae

Luhring Augustine | Chelsea

Ask not for whom the bell tolls. Clement Greenberg got it right when he took extreme value contrast as a sign of anxiety about illusionistic space in painting (criticizing, Franz Kline’s black-and-whites for being retrograde, championing the even glow of Barnett Newman). British artist Fiona Rae’s new “black” paintings update the maxim, presenting a parody of depth that is the flip side of the recently returned allover, color-saturated abstraction.

All eight of the large canvases contrast a flat black ground with brightly colored Richter-like scrapings and brushings, as well as two-tone rectangles, some so thin they appear more like bands than shapes. Rae eschews the denser feel of her earlier work for sparer, emptier compositions—in general, an improvement. The new strategy fails, however, in at least three of the paintings, which would be chilly enough without having a void at their

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