Looking Beyond The Grayscale
by Elizabeth Michelman
“Black/White,” this summer’s show at Bromfield, contextualizes the work of 13 gallery artists. Included are drawings, collaged and digitally processed images on paper and plastic, letterpress and photography, needle- point and paintings on aluminum and canvas. What counts as (primarily) “black and white” is left up to the individual artist, based on theory, desire or past work.
The limited palette, is for some, the preferred modality. Others produced work just for this show, or had a piece that fit. Ironic, austere, raucous and poetic voices all find their places here. These artists are making work that goes against the tide, emphasizing process, playfulness, and personal search, not grand systems, glamor or global indictments. Within the narrow confines of palette, these works puzzle and delight. Judy Riola calls the variegated color and strong forms in her large oil-and- acrylic canvases “the antithesis of black and white.” Unable to live without color, she decided to “do penance,” scaling back to pale yellows and burnt oranges in a diptych already dominated by large black shapes and high-contrast patterning.
Patty Adams’ collage-paintings grow from constructions in her studio that she photographs, Photoshops and has printed on large, corrugated plastic sheets; she then builds up new surfaces of paint and collage. “Runaround Sue,” from a multihued series, is the first and only variation restricted entirely to black and white.
Linda Klein and Ted Ollier work with binaries. Klein establishes sharp transitions in her acrylic paintings through a process of repeatedly recopying photographs of trees, burning out the in-between tones and flattening the form into silhouettes. She then grids and scales up the images, transferring them painstakingly with brush to larger canvases and refining the edges in a meditative process.