Painting Writ Huge
I don’t know any work of art better balanced between sculpture and painting than Phyllida Barlow’s “Untitled: Lattice (Large)”, in her solo show at Hauser & Wirth gallery in New York. That makes it more interesting than her other works, which sit too safely within the traditions of sculptural installation. “Lattice” comes close to being a massive, 3D enlargement of a tiny paint chip from a Rothko or a Reinhardt: The fractured grid reads as the threads of a canvas, and the specks of color read as underpainted pigment buried deep in the pictorial matrix. This creates a wonderful tension between the diminutive and the monumental, as has sometimes been achieved by Old Master painters working on the surface of the canvas alone. One cranky question: In what sense is “Lattice” untitled? And if it isn’t without a title, why include the word “untitled” in its name? I’d be willing to take it as a clever comment on titling, if it weren’t that this kind of un-titling is now the norm among artists.
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