elizabeth harris gallery
529 w20 st ny 10011
212 463 9666
thornton willis: step Up
march 31 – may 7, 2016
reception: thursday, march 31, 6-8pm
book available for pre-order
The Elizabeth Harris Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by Thornton Willis. The exhibition will be up from March 31 through May 7, 2016, with an opening reception on Thursday, March 31 from 6-8 pm. This will be the artist’s fifth one-person exhibition at the Elizabeth Harris Gallery, and Willis continues in “step Up” to exalt painting that reaffirms the ideology of great abstraction. Close reading of the surfaces reveals highly gestural sensibilities tempered by an intellectually rigorous reductionism.
Exploring the possibilities of the grid since the late 1960s, Willis became a member of the Third Generation of Abstract Expressionists with his “Wall” paintings, in which he created linear colored bands across the surface. In his most current work, Willis has never more clearly defined his purity of purpose to dynamically activate form while pushing the limits of the two-dimensional picture plane. Willis presents us with a major breakthrough in his ability to create and depict spacetime as the actual medium in which we experience life, much as Cubism broke similarly fresh ground. These are paintings that take time to look at and to read.
As Vittorio Colaizzi writes in his essay for the forthcoming book on Thornton Willis, “…Willis’s brazenness lies, again not as a cheap thrill, but as a critical engagement with abstract painting’s ongoing history. This is of course a property of Willis’s entire oeuvre, a property that gives him a central place in the problems and ambitions of painting since the mid 20th century.” His paintings in the 21st century are stronger than ever. “As abstraction’s preacher he has never been more charismatic.” James Panero
In this show, Willis paints vertical bands that appear to “hover” in the field; sometimes the bands transition unexpectedly to different colors, reminiscent of litmus strips. While in others he attempts a high-wire act with rectangles in a precarious composition where form and field move forward and back in a color spectrum that verges on optical perimeters. The “space” that Willis is exploring is the same throughout, with forms that “step up” or “step through, under, and around.” In this exhibition Willis takes us on a tour de force in which the explication of complex ideas are encoded in the most direct manner and brilliant, intuited color is used to support the compositional elements.
A major figure for younger painters, Thornton Willis has exhibited extensively in the United States and Europe, and is in many major public and corporate collections (a full CV is available on request).
The gallery is located at 529 West 20th Street, 6th floor, and is open Tuesday through Saturday 11am-6 pm.
for further information, contact Miles Manning at 212.463.9666