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Each painting in the exhibition is organized according to its own system, indicating a new phase in Stephen Westfall's development. The current array of compositions has evolved out of his now-classic works of the mid-1990s in which misaligned grids were placed on colored fields. The new paintings are also more consistently abstract than those in Westfall's last exhibition at Lennon, Weinberg in 2003, in which one painting in particular was a schematic depiction of a building facade viewed through a wall of windows. In that body of work, he strode right up to the theoretical boundary between abstraction and representation and challenged it. Today, other possibilities have come to the forefront.
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Look Around is an optically intense painting in which concentric bands of color are separated by rows of alternating black and white squares. The painting relates to Josef Albers' paintings of concentric squares in establishing spatial relationships among the colors in the composition, but Westfall shifts the painting into high gear by introducing the black and white squares. These squares read together as bands above the colors, and simultaneously as solid stripes beneath them. And as they run behind the colors and cross the center, something unexpected happens: the white stripes slip into alignment with the black and vice versa. A Westfall 'tweak' takes place, not quite as we've seen it in any previous painting, but by following an intuitive system to its logical conclusion.
Jerome and Winslow, the two largest paintings in the exhibition, have strong psychological associations with the places in Arizona for which they are titled. Both reprise structures that have appeared in Westfall's work previously but are distinguished by their specificity of color and temperament. Orchard Street is as active and stimulating as its namesake, in which sections of grid patterns overlap like swatches of fabric on a cutting table. Speedway comes closest to suggesting a landscape, and Springs has a particularly free-form grid.
A series of monotypes Westfall made a decade ago at Two Palms Press in New York provided the impetus for a breakthrough in his work at that time. Recent print projects with Aurobora Press in San Francisco and Durham Press in Pennsylvania have opened up new possibilities and contributed significantly to the range of color and composition of the new paintings. These prints were the subject of a recent exhibition at Bruno Marina Gallery in Brooklyn. Westfall continues as Painting Co-Chair of the MFA Program at Bard College and has recently joined the faculty of Rutgers University.
For images and additional information, please contact Amy Yee at 212-941-0012, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.lennonweinberg.com.