Yevgeniya Traps interviews painter Jack Whitten whose work is on view at Hauser & Wirth, New York through April 8, 2017.
Whitten remarks: “I’m working with these units of paint, which I call tesserae—originally the word for ancient mosaics… The tesserae, in my mind, is the unit, it’s the thing that makes them. I can build anything I want with the tesserae, using all acrylic paint, built layer by layer by layer until I get the thickness that I want… The tesserae go back years. They have to cure before I can use them. And I have an advantage there from painters who work with a wet palette, because I work from a dry palate. And the advantage to working with a dry palette is that my eye is structuring something that is not going to change. It’s been sitting and curing for a year, for two years. That piece of acrylic is not going to change anymore. It’s like working with stone—it becomes a primal element.”