Xylor Jane, Magic Square for Finding Lost People, 2014, oil on panel, 24 × 24".

Xylor Jane

University Museum of Contemporary Art, UMassAmherst

Xylor Jane’s paintings are composed of delicate grids of Arabic numerals, each obediently stabled in its own square. The digits are not quivering in the air or bolting through cables or scurrying behind images. They are firm, settled. With their seemingly mechanical precision, the paintings can recall stock-ticker displays or sheets of raw data. But there are traces of the artist’s hand everywhere. All of the cells are lovingly stippled with dots—their soft-serve tips indexing the paintbrush’s release—and smudges are left in plain sight on the sides of every canvas. Jane dotes on the numbers, cossets them—even calls them “friends and family”—such that their cold, abstract, and repeatable nature is rendered material, tender, and human.

Together, Jane’s paintings propose a system of numerology that’s just as multitoned as any language. Sometimes the numbers are calendrical: A set of primes

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the April 2019 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.