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Pat Steir

Cheim & Read

Pat Steir is a prolific painter who remains capable of surprising us with innovative variations on a particular combination of iconography and technique that has been a feature of her work for some time: cascades of liquid—presumably water—rendered by alternating a gradual buildup of paint with more gestural marks and splashes of color. In her recent exhibition at Cheim and Read, Steir showed monumental canvases in which she successfully reconciled a series of dichotomies: complexity and simplicity; dynamism and sensitivity; discipline and chaos.

The most consistent group of works in the show was a set of works—Whistleresque symphonies, really—in black and white, gray and silver. Each of these paintings exhibits varying degrees of sheen and opacity, achieved via successive additions and subtractions of color. The backgrounds confront one another like standards on a battlefield, sometimes

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