David Reed

Ulrich Museum of Art

To call “Leave Yourself Behind,” David Reed’s recent show in Wichita, Kansas, a survey of his paintings from the past four decades would be inaccurate. With only fifteen works, it was too selective to be considered a comprehensive examination of the painter’s career. The exhibition was also installed in nonchronological order, thus happily avoiding any resemblance to the kind of teleological museum display that attempts to plot, say, Mondrian’s passage from trees to grids in six simple steps. Rather, the installation juxtaposed, to startling effect, Reed’s abstracted gestural landscapes from the late 1960s with his later, cooler works.

If the show traced Reed’s development over time, it did so, at least in part, in the service of an important element of his aesthetic: the awareness of a material and social world beyond the painting’s frame, a world including even the artist’s own evolution.

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