John Otte


John Otte is given not to grand gestures but rather to quietly commanding ones, as this selection of thirty-five works produced between 1982 and 2007 showed. His is an art of precisely composed images and finely wrought textures. Most of Otte’s works are intimate in scale, but even the larger ones express a sensibility attuned to the intimate, rewarding close scrutiny and familiarity with the art-historical and cultural references he invokes.

The earliest works in the exhibition, four pastel drawings on paper from 1982, create spatial paradoxes. In each, a black rectangle seems to float slightly above the center of a gray-white background. The figure-ground relationship is destabilized by the fact that the white, irregular shapes enclosed by the black rectangle also, at their bases, bleed into the rectangle’s white surround. All called Untitled (Newmanesque), these drawings do indeed evoke

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