DAVID COHEN, Editor           
       November 2000  

 

Scott Richter


Elizabeth Harris Gallery
529 W 20 Street,
6th Floor New York
NY 10011

October 12 thru' November 11, 2000

 

By ABRAHAM FERRARO

 

My first reaction to Scott Richter's exhibition was: is it painting or is it sculpture? Foot high stacks of oil paint, layer-upon-layer, inch thick, seductively and eloquently reduced paint to it's bare minimum: an excuse for making art justified in itself, conjuring up wayward thoughts of Minimalist sculpture and Expressionist painting. The presentation was matter of fact, as if taking the viewer into Richter's studio where these tables and dollies became, literally, vehicles for art. The commonplace of any painter's studio, they are smeared and scraped with dabs of paint as any palette table would be. The method of spreading each layer was accomplished by using a palette knife not in a painterly manner, but as if he was spreading a layer of frosting on a cake. And this is where the painting leaves off and the sculptural quality takes over as the material's mass weighs down these painterly devices. The sturdy industrial quality of these studio tables reinforces the gravity of these stacks of paint. The process of construction using a secret drying agent for the oil paints again eludes to sculptural methodology.
But Richter's paradox is not satisfied yet, and an examination of the titles and colors yields a rich historical commentary. One piece entitled "Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow, & Blue?" takes both from Barnett Newman, while "Sense/Nonsense" appropriates Franz Kline. There are other references in his work to painters, but the visual quality and the corresponding reference to painters of the Minimalist and Expressionist periods was a surprisingly elegant statement. What the commentary says or does not say is not as important as the open ended debate presented for thought

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