Painting, as we know, is not only not dead, but it is flourishing. And not only painting, but abstract painting. In this two-person show, Judith Murray and Cordy Ryman parade their respective chops in a far-ranging conversation about painting and art across more than 35 years.
Murray, a veteran abstractionist, weighs in with a monumental, never-before shown triptych, Messengers: Rogue, Luminary, Magician from 1983 -1985. Painted in her signature palette of red, yellow, black and white, her tactile, idiosyncratic, surrealistic geometries seem to hover in and out of the picture plane, emerging from a dark, complexly colored and brushed ground to project outward, as if to puncture real space, presciently moving beyond ideologies of flatness into brash, seductive illusionism.
Ryman, on the other hand, is a painter and sculptor, an artist who makes painted sculptures of sumptuous architectonic accumulations, his ground typically the space of the gallery. He came of age in less formally doctrinaire times, thanks to those who preceded him, like Murray, whose works paved the way for more heterodox, more expansive perspectives. His colorful modules—variously sized pieces of roughly painted wood—scrap and otherwise—lend his site-specific installations an appealingly mundane, DIY sensibility that pushes against high-tech sleekness and virtuality. But they also reflect its mutability with their own. Capable of countless permutations of variable dimensions, from the modest to the magisterial, their unfixed, shape-shifting ethos is very much part of today’s world of constant flux, change.