Paul Behnke: An Awful Rainbow

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James Panero writes about the work of painter Paul Behnke for the exhibition Paul Behnke: An Awful Rainbow at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, New York, on view from April 18 – May 18, 2013.

Panero begins: "Paul Behnke is a painter of layers. He paints less in strokes than in slicks. In the studio he uses spatulas, sticks, brushes, and rags to build up, scrape back, rebuild, dig out, and pull up his acrylics to the point where there is no front or back, top or bottom, figure or ground. His contentious colors conceal as they reveal, add as they subtract, draw as they erase… His paintings, all square, act more like descriptions than depictions. They are not horizontal like landscapes or vertical like portraits. They are real things as much as the images of things… What results are layered objects of sedimentary colors. They mean what they are. They become what we make them. Their final layer is the meaning we apply."

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