New York

Laura Newman

Bellwether

Despite the best efforts of abstract painters to establish a surface devoid of any reference to the world, most viewers still tend to look for imagery “hidden” in nonrepresentational canvases. Abstract compositions are often treated as Rorschach blots to be deciphered, even “finished,” by the viewer, rather than as something wholly composed by the painter. Laura Newman is willing to split the difference: Her paintings cater to both image-hungry viewers and connoisseurs of pure abstraction.

One of the works in Newman’s recent show is a baby blue field bracketed by yellow trapezoids. The blue is marked now and then by white lines like Lucio Fontana slices through the canvas—or wispy clouds. The yellow forms almost immediately register as doors standing open against the sky, an illusion Newman bolsters by titling the work Yellow Doors, 2002. In a nearby painting two rectangles and a

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