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'Stanley Whitney: Afternoon Paintings' - Lisson Gallery

October 12, 2019

2nd October - 2nd November

 

FREE Entry

 

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New York-based Stanley Whitney opens his second exhibition Afternoon Paintings in the Lisson Gallery, presenting two rooms filled with 12, 24 and 40 inch paintings, all portraying Whitney’s signature style. The compositions are made up of blocks of squares, rectangles and beams. A renowned jazz fan, Whitney’s flirtations with music are strongly visible in his work. Each block is a tone of its own and can be viewed as such, but it is only together (horizontally or vertically is not of importance) that the colourful blocks of sound become music. As each block is created freehandedly, Whitney breaks with the conventional rules of geometry and perfection. In some instances, the edges of the blocks are smooth. In others, though, they cross over, and some other corners are left blank. These little ‘imperfections’, a product of the human hand, create suspense within the sequence, resulting in a crescendo of Whitney’s musical colours and forms.

 

Stanley Whitney, 'Afternoon Paintings', Installation View. Image courtesy of Lisson Gallery's website.

 

Whitney’s melodious work achieves volume through his use of colours. Compared to his older work, which embraced clear and sharp colours, those in Afternoon Paintings show just what afternoon colours might look like. A calmer, more mature version of Whitney is depicted with the earthly greens, deep reds and warm yellows of the exhibition. Although his use of colours is more grounded, the immediate confrontation of a bright blue next to a full orange achieves the same confronting effect. He explains that he has “to let the colour take me wherever it takes me…the idea is that colour cannot be controlled and that it has total freedom.” Throughout the pieces, the spectator can see how Whitney let himself be carried away with colours, acting within the moment to create a unique palette.

 

Stanley Whitney, 'Afternoon Paintings', Installation View. Image courtesy of Lisson Gallery's website.

 

Someone once told me that living in a city is damaging to one’s eyes: without the visual stimulation of the green of the trees or the light of the sun, the eye, accustomed to all the monotone grey, becomes lazy. Whether this thesis is scientific or not is beyond the point; what matters is that in our hectic, computer screen-filled lives, full, intense colours have a strengthening power. In contrast with the strong white of the gallery walls, Whitney’s melodious sequences of vivid colour combinations and freehand forms wake up the eye, shake up the brain and allow the visitor to get on with one’s day full of energy.

 

Edited by Alexia McDonald, Head Digital Editor

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