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There is no gray stripe in a rainbow. And has anyone ever noticed or even complained? Other colors have personality like fiery red, glowing yellow and dreamy blue. But gray is special because it isn’t. It is neutral. It is the color of public television.
On August 6, The Painting Center closed its summer show devoted to gray, Grey Matter. I guess it shouldn’t be any surprise that the show wasn’t widely reviewed as a summer blockbuster. It didn’t have nearly enough color for that. I can only imagine that the press releases received by most reviewers were tossed aside when their interest wasn’t piqued by the idea of exploring something that is neither here nor there. Their loss.
This curious show was actually worth a look, it was a nice take on the most underdog of colors. In fact, despite its frankly dull reputation, gray can achieve visual and optical effects that other colors cannot. Gray makes the colors near it explode. The strongest abstract works in the show made this popping effect the crux of their composition.
In “Bemist” (2011), Julie Shapiro places a set of light blue stripes in a gray field. The lines looked so bright, intense and almost neon because they float on layers of gray. More muted blue lines are buried in the composition and all this adds formal density to the work, particularly on the lower-right corner.
Stephanie McMahon’s “Thaw” from 2011 also taps gray as a team player for her other colors. Gray lines coil together like the lattice of a birdcage. This composition creates several small white openings that make the work feel like a quilt of mini-paintings. Seeing these more boisterous colors framed by this much gray was like experiencing them on visual steroids.
Sure gray may never muster a place on a rainbow, but we should remember that moisture from a gray storm cloud made that rainbow possible in the first place.
Grey Matter at the Painting Center (547 West 27 street, Suite 500, Chelsea, Manhattan) took place from June 21 to August 6, 2011.
The University of Virginia researchers wrote that the data “provides compelling evidence that these symbols are associated with hate.”
We are waiting for spectacle and when the quotidian, yet incongruous actions occur I wonder whether there is any real payoff coming.
Hear from Holly Jean Buck, Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas, Simon Denny, Elizabeth Hoover, Renee Kemp-Rotan, Joseph Kunkel, and more at this free public event.
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Starting Monday, readers can borrow one of 50 rare and out-of-print titles, mailed to them completely free of charge, from Saint Heron Library.
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51 international publishers and galleries showcase their latest editions in prints and artists’ books at this free public fair, which is fully online this year.
While hardly about the pandemic, or any of the other crises so afflicting us, all are invoked in this exhibition, which is also often tender and profoundly soulful.
These glowing, dynamic artworks reproduce something of Bosch’s chaotic energy, but on an immersive, multi-sensory scale.
This week, addressing a transphobic comedy special on Netflix, the story behind KKK hoods, cultural identity fraud, an anti-Semitic take on modern art, and more.