Terry Winters at Matthew Marks Gallery

review by Hovey Brock

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“Dioxazine Shift,” 2016, Terry Winters, Oil, wax and resin on linen, 80″ x 60″
Photo: courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

For those who prefer their art leavened with critical theory, politics, irony or the like, there may be a temptation to dismiss Terry Winters’ current show as eye candy, but, to paraphrase what Cézanne said about Monet, “My god, what eye candy!” Winters’ brilliantly hued paintings in this show are a paean to color for color’s sake. These 17 canvases ranging from easel size to over 10 feet wide show a genuine humility on the part of Winters, in allowing color to take the lead. As Winters admits in the press release for the show “…color is basically wild and full of surprises.” The fact that there are many ravishing works here, and no duds, demonstrates Winters’ full command of an intuitive approach to oil painting that is rarely seen in blue chip galleries.

Here as in previous exhibitions, Winters’ compositional gambit, layers of organic patterns upon organic patterns, effectively frees up his hand in order to be in the moment. Playing with transparent media such as wax, lakes (dyes suspended in a semi-transparent base that gives the pigment bulk but no covering power), and resins allows him to leave breadcrumbs as to his decisions going from one layer to the next. In Verdigris (2014), green petal-shaped forms, some of them lined with red, float on an indigo background, which itself is covering yet another pattern underneath. The numerous layers create an indeterminate space that vibrates around the tensions created by the complementary red and green passages. As always, Winters’ surface remains tidy yet relaxed. While there are many contenders for “best in show” among these colorful beasts, Dioxazine Shift, (2016), presents a unique convergence of drawing decisions and color events that add up to an unforgettable impact. A virtual sphere made up of a moiré pattern of overlapping cobalt blue dots hovers over a grid of similarly colored smaller dots. The eponymous dioxazine purple makes a guest appearance as it rides on top of a handful of the larger dots across the upper half of the sphere. Behind the purple dots the pale blue ground shifts into creamy yellow, pushing the purple into our space. A color accent of orange lining a pale blue dot in the lower right quadrant sets the whole composition spinning, and Winters, using the inherent intelligence of color itself, brings another painting to life.
—HOVEY BROCK