Convalescing from an illness, the Egyptian poet Constantine Cavafy once boasted “I have seen the absolute Black; it was unspeakably beautiful.” He can keep the purity. What’s more electrifying is how black behaves in relation, coming alive optically. Black shapes can vibrate when placed in stark contrast to neutral hues. Few artists unlock black’s buzzing potential better than Joan Witek.
For example, “The Road at Night (PS-28)” (1984), on view in her exhibition at Minus Space, was inspired by an evening walk along a dirt road on Shelter Island. Witek wrote “As I stayed longer in the darkness, I began to see into the night…With time, my senses were becoming more aware of the night’s subtleties.”
Just as nightvision takes time to switch on, Witek’s works reward patient looking. As the eyes become more attuned to their dark subtleties, they amp up. That humming on the edges gets louder, though never as stridently as Bridget Riley’s compositions — Witek’s are more enchantingly subdued.
Tantalizingly, this buzz resists digital reproduction. The center column in this image of “That He Be Known and Loved and Imitated (PS-22)” (1984) gets close. The jolt hits hardest in person.
Joan Witek: Paintings from the 1980s continues through October 24 at Minus Space (16 Main Street, Suite A, Brooklyn). The exhibition was curated by Jason Andrew.
Join Hyperallergic for an online conversation with Kiowa Tribal Museum Director Tahnee Ahtone on January 25 at 7pm (EST).
This week, Patrisse Cullors speaks, reviewing John Richardson’s final Picasso book, the Met Museum snags a rare oil on copper by Nicolas Poussin, and much more.
Graduate students in the University of Denver’s Emergent Digital Practices program work on research with faculty who are engaged directly with their communities, both online and off.
Alexi Worth’s paintings demand a double take that allows viewers to look closer and begin dissembling the painting in order to understand what is being looked at.
Anastasia Pelias’s sculpture builds on this mythological legacy, suggesting we all have the ability to commune with a higher power and influence our futures.
Curated by Jill Kearney, this exhibition in Frenchtown, NJ amplifies stories both local and universal with work by Willie Cole, Sandra Ramos, sTo Len, and more.
Jack Spicer’s poetry can be deeply funny and playful but it has a consistent undercurrent of sadness.
Belinda Rathbone’s biography traces the sculptor’s embrace of kinetic mechanisms to his work in the Singer Sewing Machine factory.
The first lecture is on the relationship between early portrait photography and diverse notions of US identity during the Gilded Age. Register to attend on January 25.
It’s the first time in the country’s history that objects of this significance are offered for public sale.
Schwartz was at the forefront of computer-generated art before desktops or the kind of software that makes it commonplace today.
Curator La Tanya S. Autry shares a set of crucial questions she considers when curating images of anti-Black violence.