Chicago

Wallace Whitney

rowlandcontemporary

Wallace Whitney is alive to the curious allure of gestural abstraction, to the drama and theatricality made possible by painting with a wide and overloaded brush in thick three- or four-foot strokes that can seem impetuous, risky, sudden, bold, unconsciously derived, and—when they work—pictorially inevitable. That model has persisted for some sixty years, the sense of a painting as an intense sequence of real-time decisions—the ultimate fate of the canvas always in doubt, the painter someone functioning under great tension, who, like a jazz musician, must trust that his familiarity with his instrument will summon form out of what could otherwise descend into chaos. At first such expressionism was tied, fairly securely, to a sense of angst-driven brinksmanship, to some primal and existential cathartic assertion of self, to a mythos of art as a matter of life and death—but those histrionics

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