Jack Whitten: Cosmic Put-on

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Edward M. Epstein reviews the recent exhibition of works by Jack Whitten at Alexander Gray Associates, New York.

Epstein writes: "Exuberant is the word I would use to describe Jack Whitten’s work over the years. While it is certainly possible to link the artist’s work to his African American background, to political turmoil current and past, to Abstract Expressionism, and even to metaphysics, what I really sense from his art is a man having fun with his materials… It’s not just the color that creates excitement in the room. Striking contrasts of figure and ground push the paintings out toward the viewer. Whitten builds materials onto the canvas in a way that is both evocative and tactile. The work hovers between collage, sculpture, and the kind of warped illusion of space wrought by juxtaposing realities that don’t quite fit together. The artist has said to me that the universe has not three or four but multiple dimensions; looking at his paintings, I believe him."

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