press release

Margarete Roeder Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of The Black Paintings by Gary Kuehn from March 8 - April 7, 2001. A reception for the artist will be held on Thursday, March 8, from 6 - 8 PM.

The exhibition will focus on a group of paintings Kuehn made in 1972-73, all executed in acrylic on canvas. The works are composed of a flat white ground with a heavy layer of black paint describing a central form. The scale varies from the moderate, 3 x 3 feet, up to wall-sized, 8 x 12 feet.

What is most apparent from these works in their relationship to Kuehn's sculpture: the heavy shapes composed of thick, obdurate, matte black paint insist on the sheer physicality of their presence. In their materiality these are surely a sculptor's paintings. The viewer senses the sculptural plasticity and force of the images and-one is tempted to say objects-forms. The tension in these works is almost palpably physical, as the central image seeks to break out beyond the confines of the canvas, to expand its domain, which seems less like a plane or support, and more like a restraint, a coercion, a force to be combated.

The forms owe something to the language of minimalism, and even neo-plasticism. But Kuehn's forms do not capitulate to those tenets, but rather seek to transform the situations that these patrimonial hierarchies insist upon. Slyly addressing the Euclidean forms of utopian modernists they subvert them, acknowledging rather than dismissing. The orthodoxies of sanctioned art history and their canonical manifestos hold no interest for Kuehn, rather he has demarcated another area for himself.

As the forms engage each other, existing in a continual state of variance, so Kuehn insists on the transitional. And here it indicates a defined posture: these works demand their mutable position, not because they are in one condition, only to morph into another, but rather that transition is their desired state, an interstitial equilibrium. Paralleling Kuehn's sculptural works of the late sixties, the accidents of material are not only permitted but celebrated.


Gary Kuehn "The Black Paintings, 1972-7"