Much of it comes from artists who are instantly recognizable. Roy Lichtenstein, Philip Guston, Ed Ruscha and Chuck Close, for example, can be easily spotted at forty paces. Still, it’s affecting to see them staring back at us from a distance of four decades. Roy Lichtenstein’s colored pencil and pasted paper Study for Studio International Cover (1967) is a humble, spontaneous, deft composition of positive and negative space. Its loosely drawn pencil lines show Lichtenstein’s thought in action. An early Chuck Close, Leslie (1977), is a delicate grid of pastel, graphite, and watercolor on watercolor-washed paper. Close’s characteristic dots are placed with care, even tentatively, as if he is still questioning the possibilities for the work.
On the other side of sensory spectrum, Tom Friedman and Sam Messenger offer delicate, obsessively cut and drawn works that rely on the grid to encapsulate the image. Friedman’s NYtimes on Xmas (2007) is a lacy, ephemeral scrim of incised shapes made like a child’s cut-paper snowflake or doily. But in Friedman’s hands the unfolded paper is barely recognizable as newspaper. Glints of red printer’s ink appear seemingly at random as the cuts mediate the text, creating a confounding array of seemingly effortless configurations. Friedman “draws” with a knife, extracting paper to create a dazzling, decorative mosaic of shapes.
incremental changes in length or angle, the shapes widen, enlarge and expand in a mesmerizing display of linear spectacle. The work is bewitching.