This is what you see when you walk in and face the opposite wall. We'll start here for our tour around the gallery
"Gene Davis with points," is how one painter described James Little's new body of work, De-Classified: New Paintings at the June Kelly gallery. He was joking, of course. Davis may be a visual antecedent, along with Barnett Newman and maybe Kenneth Noland, but I'd describe Little's new work as "Geometry with finesse."
Continuing around the gallery (I have no info on the first work): Gypsy, 72.5 x 94 inches, and Satchmo's Answer to Truman, 76 x 98 inches; both 2008, oil and wax on canvas
Closer view of both, below
Formally, these resolutely abstract paintings would seem to be about figure and ground, or more precisely about the ambiguity of figure and ground, and thus about the ambiguity of space, and about color and control, flatness and expanse. And certainly about chromatic rhythm. In these paintings, sawtooth elements are placed in side-by-side in discrete segments (occasionally a Davis-like band of stripes changes the visual cadence). As the angles of different colors, sometimes near complementaries, slide into one another, a mirage-like shimmer hovers over the surface. It's in no way Op in the manner of Bridget Riley, but it is retinally invigorating.
Little's paintings are technically virtuosic and visually ravishing . His palette, saturated and opaque, has just a touch of white. It's far from pastel, yet there's an alluring softness to it.
The show is up at the June Kelly Gallery in SoHo through June 9.
Continuing around from Satchmo's Answer to Truman is Near-Miss, 2008, oil and wax on canvas 72.5 x 94 inches
I was taken by the two framed paintings (not sure of medium) on paper between two larger oil and wax paintings. Beautifully realized, they nevertheless appear to be maquettes or precursors to some of the larger works. I've placed one at the bottom of this post, just under the larger painting it resembles
The Marriage of Western Civilization and the Jungle, with detail below showing the clean lines and luscious surface
We've completed our circuit of the gallery, with the entry at left the the 'V' painting on the right
Below: A small framed painting on paper relates to the large work on the far wall. The large painting is When Aaron Tied Ruth, 2008, oil and wax on canvas, 72.5 x 94 inches
Related reading and looking:
. Ben LaRocco's interview with James in the the current issue of The Brooklyn Rail
. Geoform, an online resource for abstract geometric art.
. Little's own website: www.jameslittleart.com