Kyle Chayka reports on a lecture by painter Jack Whitten on the occasion of his exhibition Jack Whitten: Erasures, on view at the SCAD Museum, Savannah, Georgia, through March 31, 2013.
Chayka writes: "New York’s frenetic milieu allowed Whitten to refine his practice, moving from derivative Abstract Expressionism to an automatic form of painting informed by manufacturing, speed, and minimalism. He adopted a physical materiality from African sculpture and focused on questioning the faith in gesture of the New York School. 'I stopped using the word ‘to paint,’ and said ‘to make,’ ' he explained, showing images of canvases he created by dragging saw-toothed planks across expanses of pooled paint. These paintings, which saw Whitten reduce his work down to a single gesture, are currently on view at the elegantly renovated SCAD Museum of Art. In contrast to some Abstract Expressionism, the work still feels fresh, largely due to its mechanical clarity. Whitten described that he thought of these paintings as having the qualities of a single line — a discrete piece of visual information."