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Jay DeFeo
at Dwight Hackett Projects, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Recommendation by Alex Ross

Continuing through August 7, 2010

Eclipsing Jay DeFeo\'s petite frame, the artist\'s 11-by-8-foot painting, bearing over a ton of obsessively worked impasto, \"The Rose\" (1958-66) required eight years to complete. The work exists as a signal monument of artistic ambition and perseverance; yet, as happens all too often, monuments overshadow their surroundings. \"Summer Landscape\" presents fourteen never-before-exhibited paintings from a series that manifested her first return to the use of oil paint after she abandoned it for other media in the wake of her exertion.

Energized by DeFeo\'s discovery in 1982 of what she referred to as an exceptionally beautiful oil paint, each of the approximately 7-by-14-inch paintings on paper proves that her command of subtractive visual strategies (no doubt reinforced by the expense of these extraordinary materials) is no less impressive than her famed penchant for tireless accretion. Linked by her use of tape to punctuate works with areas of exposed paper coordinated into hard-edge geometrics, the three paintings in the exhibition\'s entry gallery merge the delicate expressive capacity of feathery brushstrokes with powerfully vectored areas of triangulated negative space extending from the edge of each composition. The remaining pieces witness DeFeo either applying passages of lushly textured blacks, which enact the role of bare ground, or centering her signature triangular forms within otherwise all-over compositions. Privileging intimacy over grandeur, all are distinguished by an uncommon organizational precision, the understated opulence achieved by single strokes of contrasting incendiary hues, and a forceful presence that belies their modest proportions.




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