Drew Lowenstein reviews an exhibition of paintings by Gary Stephan at Susan Inglett Gallery, New York, on view through April 26, 2014.
Lowenstein writes: "Gary Stephan’s new paintings exude matter-of-factness about their own making that perfectly embodies the often overused term 'practice.' Stephan toys with expectations of how foreground and background are supposed to function, slyly inserting illusionistic references that undermine the order and certainty of hard edge formalist abstraction... Although we may not know what exactly is being depicted in this exhibition, in most of the paintings the viewer can unpack the steps involved in how each painting is constructed. We can follow the process almost as easily as we can follow the step-by-step execution of a portrait or a figure in a landscape by Alex Katz... At a moment in which market abstraction is being defined by such monikers as 'raggedy AbEx' and 'zombie formalism,' Stephan is uninterested in a summary affirmation or a 'look' that neatly ties-up his choices. He points out smaller questions that are as resonant as they are elusive. Where so many others are going through the motions he keeps moving on."