By REX WEIL • October 2, 2006
In these two shows, veteran painter Tony Bechara offered very different takes on his grid-based abstraction. At Andre Zarre, paintings from 2004 and 2005 emphasized bright color, high contrast, and chance configurations. At latincollector’s new 57th Street gallery, a series of canvases fro; this year demonstrated the artist’s recent shift to more subtle, controlled, and nearly monochromatic compositions.
In 46 Colors (2006) at Zarre, Bechara superimposed a grid of quarter-inch squares on the tiny blocks with vibrant shades of red, yellow, bleu, and green. Though he selected the colors in advance, he improvised the placement during the painting procees. The strategy recalls Ellsworth Kelly’s 1950s experiments with large color checkerboards, but because of the minuscule size of Bechara’s colored spaces, the effect was less formal and more animated, like the buzzing pixels of a television image.
Though the new paintings at Latincollector were also built on quarter-inch grids, their colors were more restricted, with each canvas limited to light and dark variations of one basic hue. The exuberant visual noise of the earlier canvases was sacrificed in favor of o more definitive suggestion of pictorial space and overt wavelike patterns. One of these works, Jaune/Jaune (2006), is a disciplined study in yellow. The painting vibrates, the way its predecessors do, but more gently recalling simultaneously Bridget Riley’s optical illusions and the undulating shadow-and-light treatment that articulates robes and drapery in classical oil paintings.