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David Reed: Clarity of Facture

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James Hyde reviews the recent exhibition Painting Paintings (David Reed) 1975 at Gagosian Gallery, New York.

Hyde writes: “Part of the interest of the work, then and now, is how it distills painterliness. The schema is simple—each painting contains roughly a dozen horizontal bands of red or black alternating with white or off-white. The canvas panels are less than a foot wide and about six feet vertically—wider paintings consist of these regular units bolted together. But it is the process that makes these paintings standout. The paintings are the result of Reed pulling a large loaded brush of red or black paint through a thick wet ground of whitish oil paint. What follows from this premise are viscerally compelling incidents where the brushstrokes have dissolved into viscous skeins of paint. Although the gesture of Reed’s brushstroke is simple and repetitive, pigment and gravity collaborate to form detailed arrays of micro-cosmic composition—each is a unique painterly moment, off hand and delectable at the same time.”

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