Magazine article Artforum International

Edward Clark: Tilton Gallery

Magazine article Artforum International

Edward Clark: Tilton Gallery

Article excerpt

Edward Clark

TILTON GALLERY

This show of ten canvases and three works on paper ranging in date from the 1960s through 2012 demonstrated, at minimum, an unusual consistency across decades--a consistency of idea and feeling as well as of quality. One might almost speak of a career without development. With nearly any other artist, such a phrase would carry an implicit reproach: a charge of complacency or monotonousness. In Edward Clark's case, it's quite the opposite: One senses that he has never ceased casting a critical eye--what Ernest Hemingway famously called the bullshit detector--on his own work. And far from falling into routine, Clark continually wrests unexpected nuances from his storm clouds of color. That he has persisted for so long without losing heart despite, until quite recently, a woeful lack of response from the mainstream (that is, white) art world only makes his sustained tenacity that much more remarkable.

I would call the paintings that were on view here contrapuntal--three-part inventions in massed, richly amalgamated color. In most of the works, the acrylic hues are disposed in three dominant swaths, more or less horizontal, though there's plenty of wiggle room inside that "more or less." In one work from 1988--Untitled, as the majority of them were--the top and bottom are arcs of green blanching toward white that symmetrically mirror each other; they bend toward a more rectilinear bundle of blues in the center. In a painting on paper dated Jan. 1, 1985, the central bluish gray-white band rests on a pillowy cloud of nominally synonymous hue; the two zones should be nearly indistinguishable, yet Clark somehow manages to give each its own particular character--tight, dense, and recessive in one case, puffy and light in the other. Meanwhile, a dusty pink hovers expectantly above, slightly bowed, as if lingering in a quiet place where some drama is being prepared. …

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