Saturday, October 21, 2006

new Marcia Hafif at Becker, Philadelphia

Larry Becker Contemporary Art
Marcia Hafif: “New Paintings: TGGT.” Thru Nov. 18. 43 N. Second St. 215.925.5389

After years of investigating single colour panels, abstract minimalist painter Marcia Hafif has moved to incorporate two colors per canvas. This isn't necessarily news to the art world, or to minimalist painting, or to the color field, but it is for fans of Hafif, who has really, sort of stubbornly stuck to her meditative brush strokes. Until now. The paintings up at Larry Becker Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, small and demure, are of slightly different sizes and each (aside from TGGT: 12 which features a red-gold, violet combination) investigate two single colors. Similar in texture to the Glaze paintings, the application is consistent, unremarkable, simply stroke after stroke after stroke, straight up and down. There is something absolutely soothing about the couplings, the colors not quite complimenting, but not jarring either. There is a sense of possibility, as if two disparate elements can coexist entirely independent of each other and still compliment, still move forward in that still way that minimalist painting always suggests to me.

Philadelphia is not Chelsea. The Larry Becker Gallery wasn't open when I went by on Wednesday to have a look, but they came and opened the door and let me wander, happy to discuss the work. In fact this human contact is a surprising element in Philadelphia gallery going...I can't count the number of visits or the number of galleries I have visited in New York over the past six years and I don't recall anyone ever so much as looking up at me, let alone say anything to me when I walked in...

The discussions are good, one feels welcome, but I realize that I became very invested in my invisibility too: slipping in and out one can move through Chelsea at breakneck speed, saving up one's energy and attention for the show that stops you in your tracks. In Philadelphia it seems I will have to look closer at the individual pieces themselves for engagement. The scale is vastly different and will require, I think, a new way of looking.

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