New York – James Bishop at David Zwirner Through October 25th, 2014

September 21st, 2014

James Bishop, Slate (1972), All images courtesy David Zwirner Gallery

Now through October 25th, David Zwirner’s 537 West 20th Street location is showing a selection of both recent and historically significant work by James Bishop, an American artist who, through the characteristic opacity and ethereality of his work, has come to be known for the delicate language of abstraction his compositions reveal.  Bishop, working since the early 1960s, has forged a strongly individualistic language of space and form in his work, utilizing careful layerings of paint into geometric patterns in large-scale, shown here alongside small-scale works on paper, which Bishop has produced since 1986.

James Bishop at David Zwirner (Installation View)

From the 1960s the 1980s, Bishop had produced a body of paintings on canvas which explore the dimensionality and depth of its surface. Layering monochromatic planes of paint, Bishop’s unique visual language stems from both American and European traditions of post-War abstract art, including Color Field and monochromatic painting, while exploring the potentials for further expression of space and time on the flat plane.  Bishop’s works here explore the tenuous relationship between spatiality, color, and scale, and access a reduced yet rich palette contained in a large, square canvas. Light, line, and surface are integral to the resonance of this work, speaking with emotional poignancy while maintaining a remote abstraction.

James Bishop, Untitled (1980)

State (1972), for example, speaks of Bishop’s interest and exploration of light and space within the corners of the frame.  This piece, as well as Having (1970) and Maintenant (1981), demonstrate the artist’s ability to question form and dimensionality through the simple act of layering paint.  Slight alterations and manipulations to various sections of his work hint at an interior depth, as if the viewer were gazing out into a murky haze.  The geometric framing that characterizes Bishop’s work continues throughout his career, from his works on canvas to his drawings on paper.

James Bishop, Maintenant (1981)

From 1986 onward, Bishop’s work has been contained to smaller-scale drawings. Though these works retain the identifiable, subtle abstractions of shape and form, a more delicate restraint is perceptible when placed side by side with Bishop’s earlier compositions. A turn from large-scale paintings to the smaller drawings was marked by the artist’s desire for a more “personal, subjective, and possibly original” technique.

This is the artist’s first exhibition at David Zwirner, and his first since 1987, offering an opportunity to view the range of Bishop’s work and observe the development over time of an intricate exploration of form.  It will close on October 25th, 2014.

James Bishop, Untitled (2012)

—A. Corrigan

Related Links
Exhibition Page [David Zwirner Gallery]