Magazine article Artforum International

John Pittman. (Reviews: Chicago)

Magazine article Artforum International

John Pittman. (Reviews: Chicago)

Article excerpt

ROY BOYD GALLERY

The best hard-edged geometric abstraction, especially at small scale, ends up negotiating an almost palpable tension between reduction and expansion. John Pittman narrows his playing field to a very few core elements--a monochromatic ground with a spare array of thinnish lines of a second color gridded across it. There is something nearly puritanical about this parsimony, a condensing so severe that it seems to test the limits of painting. And yet at the heart of Pittman's enterprise is his search for a degree of visual engagement that will reward closer inspection: Which monochromatic ground, what lines, how gridded? The infinite subtlety of the interrelationship of these elements propels these paintings.

None of the fifteen paintings shown here was larger than two feet in height or width, and most were around half that size. The modest dimensions let Pittman hunker down and almost suggested a sense of pictorial humility; such little pictures made one attentive, sensitizing and slowing one's response to the things that happen in them. The colors Pittman carefully selected for his grounds were mostly rich and nuanced shades of tan, yellow, cream, and a kind of bone white, while others were blue, green, or various types of red. …

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