David Becker has been quietly working in an Oakland warehouse for years, for the most part under the radar, showing rarely, and producing a consistently strong body of painting. For all of his studio practice’s independence from the strains of the market, his work could hardly be described as naïve; in fact, it seems to deal with most every sophisticated current in the ongoing discussion of painting’s address to our culture and condition. He has woven together multiple threads of recent art history and any given organizing principle in the work might depend upon the precedent one chooses to track. From the counterbalance of Alexander Calder’s mobiles, to the opaque push and pull of Hans Hoffman’s abstraction, the gossamer layering of Robert Rauschenberg’s combines, or the kitchen sink inclusiveness of Chris Martin’s post history, it’s all here, supporting a sampler quilt of paint’s possible vernacular range.
Becker is a tall man, like Richard Diebenkorn, and his drawing tends toward the full-bodied, more from the shoulder than the wrist. He seems to be concerned with the hierarchies of dominance and recession that come into play as a densely worked passage strives to hold our attention while slipping into the background, or a relatively uninflected one grabs it in the foreground. Implied in this focus is a grappling with the way things shift, even weighty matters, and the adaptation it takes to craft and hold a position, a gestalt, an image, in the midst of change. Becker’s image is not one of chaos, however, or even uncertainty. There is an implied order to his work, but it is the order of weather patterns and like weather, requires close tracking and a certain
acceptance of a margin of error in our predictions. The narrative of these paintings is one of dichotomy: Picnic. Lightning.