Jack Whitten to participate in symposium on his work

Jack Whitten wrote: “Painters use paint to construct light and space. The history of painting is encoded in the light and space of all paintings produced since the dawn of human consciousness. Light is fast and painting is slow.”

On Oct. 5 at 2 p.m., a symposium on his work, which is on exhibit at The Rose Art Museum, will be held in the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Admissions Center Presentation Room. Titled, "Jack Whitten: Painting, Politics, Technology," the symposium will feature the artist himself; Curator-at-Large Katy Siegel, an art history professor at Hunter College, N.Y.; Arthur Ou, director of the photography program at The New School; Michelle Kuo, Artforum editor in chief; Mingus Mapps, the Gregg Sneirson, Loretta Sneirson and Lester Sneirson Professor of African and Afro-American Studies and Politics; and Howard Singerman, an associate professor of contemporary art and theory at the University of Virginia.

For Whitten, 1970 marked what he calls a “time of reckoning” in his painting, a decisive moment when he erased the hand of the past and moved into his own present. Whitten began a course of experiments with paint that expanded, quite literally, the scale of painting on canvas, and, still more significantly, the possibilities of the medium. He began with the Slab paintings of 1971, for which he constructed a kind of developing tool—a large wooden T—that pulled acrylic paint across a surface in a single gesture. Moving forward from this success, Whitten made several monumental paintings up to twenty feet long using the developer as well as other tools.

Light Years also includes experimental drawing studies and small works on canvas made with slices of dried acrylic paint, among the first collages ever made using paint. Incorporating the speed and look of mechanical reproduction with painting’s unpredictable materiality, these works create new forms of light and space that speak directly to contemporary reality. Never before exhibited, these works by Jack Whitten from 1971-1973 are like a signal that has taken light years to reach us.

Categories: Arts

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