Tony Bechara at Latin Collector and Andre Zarre • Art in America

By Jonathan Goodman • November 1, 2006

Since the 1970s, Puerto Rican-born, New York-based Tony Bechara has been making paintings in witch he arranges small, square dabs of colors in patterns resembling mosaics or pixilation. 

For all the artist’s reliance on systems-he uses tape to subdivide his paintings into grids and applies the quarter-inch squares one at a time, having chosen a fixed number and combination of hues-he relies as much on intuition as reason, with the individual colors laid down in random order. These vibrant, energetic paintings play tricks with the eye, sometimes unfolding in organic waves that belie the geometric substratum on which they are based. Bechara’s ultimate purpose is to capture a play og light; most of hi canvases shimmer from a distance. Remarkable, too, is the distinct set of rules he imposes. 

Both galleries showed recent work. At Andre Zarre, Bechara’s 48 Colors (2005) was a standout; the acrylic-on-linen painting, 5 feet square, has a surface dense with pointillistic blues, reds, yellows ad greens. The effect is musical, syncopated and jazzy; the entire composition seems to pulse. Because the colors randomly, the painting cannot be discerned as schematically balanced; the order resonating in 48 Colors comes from chance, which liberates the work from his own strictures. In another large painting, Greys (2005), Bechara creates a striking effect with white, black and gray squares. Looking at the work up close, we notice that the edges between colors have little ridges, resulting in a woven effect and giving it a quality of low relief. Bechara’s show at the Latin Collector was equally brilliant and coherent. Red/Red (2006), a 50-inch-square acrylic on canvas, is constructed of red and orange-red squares that form a series of concentric circles around a deep red nucleus. A contrast is set up between the curved rows and the individually colored squares that compose them. In Yellows (2006), four canvases placed next to each other in a horizontal alignment present animated swathes and stripes. Here and elsewhere, Bechara bring a heat and verve to his closely considered methodological decisions.