In the order of our daily perceptions, black-and-white is simply the other reality – the one
that’s not in color. Its presence is a part of our lives in movies, photographs, newspapers, as well as art – so much so that we accept its verisimilitude of the world often without questioning it. In these stunning new pictures by James McGarrell, the shift to blue – not far as the crow flies – sets up a delectable frisson; monochrome values from light to dark conform to normal visual expectation, while at the same time we experience a startling luminosity of hues. The result is eye-awakening. Black has veracity; blue, excess, abundance: it is drenched in itself.
McGarrell has been an important figure in American art for four decades, and in this blue-and-white series he revisits images that turn up again and again in his paintings. It is a kind of Amacord of libidinous interiors, elephants, dancers, divers, aquariums, lovers, grand pianos. In the openly artful, leisurely azure of such works, McGarrell’s hand is lyric and fluent – fresh in a way that slips easily into abstraction and back. From piece to piece the flow is seamless, arpeggiated in the imagination of a master.
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