Color inspires and informs the work of Stanley Whitney, whose paintings explore the many possibilities for juxtaposition and movement across the canvas, each drawing on irregular rectangles in varying shades of strength and subtlety. His work creates fluctuating series of intensities and reliefs, draw on the composition of adjacent nodes, a structure that seems to welcome exchanges between freedom and constraint, open space and riding control, all bound together by the evolving exchanges in color. He returns to New York this fall for his fourth exhibition with Lisson Gallery, marking the first solo show of the artist to occupy both of New York gallery spaces. Investigating his profound and nuanced relationship to color and its spatial effects throughout his career, the show includes paintings and drawings dating back to the 1990s in one gallery, and a suite of brand new works in the other.
Drawing on personal travel and research over the course of his life, Whitney’s work grew into his mode of practice during the late 80’s and early 90’s, informed in particular by trips to Italy and Egypt that helped him elaborate these elegant exchanges of color and gesture across the canvas space. Seeking a sense of lightness and airiness to his works, the pieces he created during this era ultimately sought a release from the ground of the canvas, and into a site of ongoing exchange with each other, a new space where the original grounding of the artist’s work has slowly but surely disappeared.
A series of new paintings on view at 504 West 24th Street underscores Whitney’s increasingly elaborate approach to this gridded abstraction. Tightening and honing his craft, these works have slowly but surely drawn new layers of intricacy, subtle strokes and gestures executed in increasingly tight renderings, filling the canvas with a potent energy the previously seemed only implied in the colorful blocks themselves. Sensitive and lively, his placement of color draws added importance in this newly discovered pictorial space, where passages of color evoke an almost rhythmic sensibility. By varying the density and transparency of the rectangles, he is able to further adjust the amount and quality of color in space, adding additional spatial complexity to what already presents as a dense, multilayered image. A sort of call and response execution, the individual rectangles retain a bold, opaque quality with less of the drips and swirling fluidity of the early grid work. The importance, as always, remains in the color itself, the shifting, powerful energy of a canvas saturated in its diverse hues.
— D. Creahan
Stanley Whitney: In the Color [Exhibition Site]