Despite an air of uninhibited, expressive spontaneity, the dense and busy paintings of Judith Murray play by strict rules. Since her debut in a lauded 1976 solo at Betty Parsons, she has restricted her palette within each work or group, developed a tight lexicon of strokes and shapes, and included her trademark bar at the side of what would otherwise invariably be a square composition. However “allover” and layered her paintings seem, each mark retains its identity and space. Small, uncharacteristically quick-looking studies at 11 by 14 inches (a widened bar retains the near square aspect of the painterly field) represent a departure in her current exhibition, aptly titled “Tempest.” The wayward marks and sometimes defiantly hot colors are suggestive of the elements run amok and perhaps respond to the destruction of her beloved garden in the Florida Keys during last year’s hurricane season, if not, indeed, more generally to the times in which we live.
through October 6 at 547 West 27th Street, between 10th and 11th avenues, New York.
image: Trance, 2015-18