I reviewed David Schutter’s show, What is Not Clear is Not French, up now at Rhona Hoffman Gallery.
The strongest tension in David Schutter’s paintings is between their historical referents and their contemporary interpretation. While the abstract drawings wear their history plainly in academic marks and moves, it is impossible to see Schutter’s paintings without the deep-set history and theory of monochrome abstraction—our own academy, perhaps, in which the flattened, negotiated space of Agnes Martin or the emotional deadness of Mark Rothko’s later works both feel nearer than anything in the salons of 18th-century Paris. Yet Schutter’s paintings insist on their history. Each is painted in memory of a specific art-historical work, and even made to the same scale, though the specifics are only suggested. We are asked to trust that the warm blacks of AIC G (2014) come from some work—a Corbet? a Corot?—as it was seen by the artist at the Art Institute of Chicago faithfully interpreted through his desaturating memory; likewise, we can assume that NGS C 3 (2009) originated at a different point of contemplation, perhaps in the National Gallery of Scotland. Unlike many other artists’ abstractions, our interpretations here are not entirely free.
You can read the full review here.