The Texture of Color
The Texture of Color focuses on an essential point in DeFeo’s career in the early 1980s when she returned to oil after working with acrylics in the 1970s. The resulting surfaces fluctuate between thick impasto and bare paper support. Geometric forms counterbalance expressionist brushwork, complicating and enriching our experience of the works. Experimenting with collage, tape and the lush application of paint, DeFeo revisits her fascination with Renaissance perspective, chiaroscuro, and the mystery of depth. The small- scale paintings in this exhibition have all the intensity of her larger canvases yet draw the viewer into a more intimate, almost three-dimensional space.
DeFeo viewed the elemental issues of texture and color as inseparable and always in dialogue. She approached her paintings as a sculptor would, building and removing surfaces and playing off subtleties of form in light and dark, shiny and matte. DeFeo often said that her palette of black and white and a vast array of greys had enough nuance and texture to carrywork, but color is present in even her most monochromatic pieces. Close examination of her masterpiece The Rose reveals strong points of color hidden within a spectrum of greys.
The paintings in this exhibition are characterized by an unusually vivid range of color. Speaking of these works from the 1980s, DeFeo remarked, “Unless I have a feeling or a particular need for a certain color, I really see no sense or reason to use it. But these works that do have more of a brilliant palette, I have done because I feel a rightness about them.”
As she told an interviewer, “Every painting has its own rules of color.” And she explored these various rules, each in its own universe, with a particular passion that this smaller scale and time of her life encouraged.