Stanley Whitney,

Between Black and White, 2003 Huile sur toile 170 x 170 cm / Courtesy Christine König Galerie, Vienne

This exhibition of nine European and American painters focuses on work that explores maximum visual activity within carefully controlled structures. Frequently combining the grid and the gesture, these artists call upon the full range of formal possibilities available to painting. Like a jazz big band such as the Miles Davis-Gil Evans group of the late 1950s, each of their canvases delivers an abundance of expressive material that is woven together in constantly varying textures or assembled into architectonic wholes. In these complex ensembles of color, shape and line, the painter is at once performer and arranger.

On the jazz circuit these days, and actually for quite some time, big bands are rare, while more easily sustainable small groups flourish. (Most of the few successful big bands that exist, such as the Mingus Big Band and Winton Marsalis’s Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, concentrate on repertoire rather than on new music.) Similarly, many contemporary painters have chosen to work within limited formats, thus denying themselves and their viewers the experience of painting at full strength. Here, then, is a multi-generational selection of stylistically diverse painters who choose to take on “big band” painting, with all its attendant pleasures and risks.

Raphael Rubinstein

Courtesy: Mary Boone Gallery, Cheim & Read, Galerie Conrads, Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, Galerie Christine König Gallery, Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Galerie s65