Karma Books on Great Jones Street has a summer exhibition of works from the 1990s by Stanley Whitney to coincide with their publication of a 500 page doorstopper of a survey of the abstract painter’s career. The take home revelation of this show is that Whitney is a consummate draftsman. Drawings in water soluble crayon, graphite and other mediums and small oil sketches are presented salon style on an entire soaring wall of the front section of Karma’s Great Jones Street premises. It feels like a rare privilege even to be viewing pieces that evidence being torn from a notebook and were perhaps never intended for public eyes. Most of the drawings are in color, but even where they restrict themselves to graphite, color is an implied presence. “The drawings [are] very important to me,” Whitney has said in an interview. ”They [are] key to figuring out the space. Even now with the paintings, no matter how structured they are, the lucid stuff really belongs to drawing.” That “lucid stuff” maintains a quality that touches life in a concrete way, but for the viewer the experience is like zooming past a scene of people, lights and advertisements on a train. The eye moves quickly across stacks of containing lines that almost rattle by violently. Even if you can’t hold on to particular objects you sense, in the rush, that they are there. Colors almost possess agency, as if they were not chosen but presented themselves.
Exhibition continues through August 30, 2015 at 39 Great Jones Street, between Lafayette Street and Bowery, New York City, 917-675-7508