Comprised within two of Matthew Marks Gallery’s Chelsea locations, Cricket Music, Tessellation Figures & Notebook presents Terry Winters’ most recent paintings and collages to make their debut in the United States. In an impressive selection of 14 large-scale paintings, Winters’ patterned canvases display brilliantly pigmented tessellations in an array of lattice structures. Also working from a fascination with knot theory, the works posses a lyrical movement by virtue of meticulously layering both pictorial form and coloration. However, with a method such as this – the multiplication of form and layering of paint – gives way to a meditative process that rather than articulates depth, which the paintings insinuate, flattens the composition and renders it irrevocably horizontal.
The viewer is immediately confronted with works such as Tessellation Figures (6) and Tessellation Figure (7) (2011) that appear pleasant largely due to an accomplished placing of complimentary colors, which is not convincing enough for me. While Tessellation Figures (6) is vaguely reminiscent of – though in a blown-up, pixilated version – Henri Matisse’s The Goldfish (1912) or Claude Monet’s Nymphéas (1920-26), this work and others unfortunately verge on the decorative. Similar to his older works, Winters’ paintings depict a fluid intermingling of organic and scientific phenomena, where abstract form takes on the uncanny appearance of figuration. Though in works such as Tessellation Figures (4) the abstract-figurative conglomerate seem oddly unsuccessful. However, Winters does successfully develops a language of formulaic process that harnesses both the notion of the natural and the mechanical, for example in Cricket Music (2010) where he masters the fluidity of sound in abstract form.
In the gallery’s additional space, Notebook presents a series of small-scale collages conducted from 2003–2011. As never exhibited in the States, these works reveal the sketchbook-style process essential for the artist. Made up of layered found images – many of which exist on transparencies – the Notebook collages depict the same integration of figurative and abstract, natural and mechanical that informs Winters’ paintings.
This array of serial works offers a likeness to Winters’ paintings, especially noting the range of color and abstraction. Found images, often from newspaper leaves, act as a backdrop upon which a printed transparency is laid. Here, Winters touches upon the very genesis of abstraction: taking two recognizable images and through a simple process of manipulation, he dictates that which becomes illegible and detached from discernable visual cues. Winters’ tessellation paintings work within the same bounds, whereby the mosaic-esque formation of elements can be recognized and indecipherable all at once.
Most noteworthy, however, is that the collage works possess a more curated sense of color placement, as many pieces are monochromatic and as a series it is better off for the lack of the vast assemblage of color. It is obvious that the Notebook series proves to be a necessary element to the Tessellation Figures and the rest of Winters’ paintings, as it provides a much-needed depth to the exhibition as a whole. Winter’s exhibition will be on view through April 14, 2012 at Matthew Marks Gallery.