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John Wilcox
at Barry Whistler Gallery, Dallas, Texas
Recommendation by Charissa Terranova

Continuing through April 17, 2010

The words and monochromes of John Wilcox in his current exhibition, titled "New York City 1988-89," say much with very little. Having moved to New York City in 1988, he found himself in the middle of the AIDS epidemic. After attending a public talk by Ross Bleckner, Wilcox felt besieged, as though in the throes of a silent socio-biological war. In "Tender" Wilcox drew the word in black watercolor paint on one sheet of paper made from two pieces carefully glued together. Inside the wide lines of the lettering, Wilcox has scratched out the black lines that make up the consistency of the greater blocking of the letters.

The recurring gouge-like mark of inscription gives way to a similarly rhythmic motion of sanded down surfaces in the paintings. "Sake" is a large canvas in flickering gold. In sanding the surface, Wilcox fractured gold into a spectrum of yellow and orange, further leaving a tiny hole in the canvas' upper right corner.  In another watercolor drawing titled "Gaze Everest," Wilcox bore down so hard on the paper while sanding that, just shy of making a hole in it, the grade-lines of the drawing paper have been erased. Erasure is the linchpin linking Wilcox's watercolor drawings of words to the large monochrome paintings to the New York City of 1988. Wilcox applied color - acrylic paint and watercolor - to surfaces only to subsequently scratch away at it, revealing the quiet existential ambivalence of the New York City of that year.

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