Selected paintings and tapestries (2005-2009) – The Brooklyn Rail


Any keen observer of Chuck Close’s work is surely aware of its evolution from the uniformity of black and white paintings of the 1970s to the increased freedom of the later color work, which gained in dynamism following the Return. artist’s heroic painting after the rupture of a weak blood vessel in his spine left him paralyzed from neck to toe in 1988. Never before this current show, however, had we seen the deep pleasure of its colors imbued with such a deep sense of uncertainty.

Close knows the face as Cézanne knew apples. Despite the mathematical approach he takes to “likeness,” using a grid system and a uniform distribution of colors that fluctuate between light and dark within each unit, over the years the tension between the fabrication (fabrication) and fracturing (decomposition) became progressively more pronounced. In her recent work, Close has succeeded in reinventing a famous pictorial language based on photography by breaking the narrowness of photographic restrictions (this is most evident in her tapestries – two self-portraits and seven friends, including Ellen Gallagher, Philip Glass , Lyle Ashton Harris, Brad Pitt, Andres Serrano, Cindy Sherman and Lorna Simpson, which are based on daguerreotypes or Polaroids and woven by the legendary Jacquard loom in Belgium.)

Yet where does the fracture and fracture issue lead us? What if one wins over the other? Close’s propensity to translate physical appearance into objectivity recalls the case of Cézanne, who disapproved of the disintegration of form by light and atmosphere of the Impressionists; however, the greater his desire to restore form to its greater stability and dignity, the more unstable its volumes and the intervals between them have become.

Likewise, if one feels in Close an element of the so-called integrated modes of perception, in which the two-dimensional plane determines the three-dimensional aspect of the image, the apparent spontaneity at work here is maddeningly irrational. For the life of me, I will never be able to assimilate such pragmatism, alla prima brush strokes with the image as a whole. It takes considerable time to spend with this new group of paintings to assemble their fleeting visuals into a legible icon, be it the three-quarter profile of “Maggie”, with her loving gaze, “President Bill Clinton” full of self-confidence. or the assertive “James Siena II”, or the most benevolent self-portrait of the painter we have seen to date. The brushstrokes concretize the visual process of the emergence of the image, forcing the viewer to a renewed awareness of the problem of three-dimensional content represented on a surface plane.

In other words, if you look too closely at the paintings, you only see sumptuously painted abstract equations inside each modular square; moving away, the image becomes more shimmering and elusive, lost in a vaporous atmosphere and iridescence of light. It is as if Close had translated into painting the elements which we now understand to constitute the sense of sight: color, sound, temperature, pressure, space and time coinciding with the mind, feeling and will. Close has the ability to achieve the most conclusive abstractions by digging into the smallest detail. Maybe something else is emerging from below the surface, breaking down the two-dimensional surface like an enzyme while jumping out of the image plane in a way that challenges what’s stable and what’s not. . We come out with the feeling that the painter’s deep appetite for life is as much an opening to the vulnerability of uncertainty as an immersion in the pleasure of the senses; it’s something you might call the top optimism, which endures as Close’s most enduring gift.

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