As it commemorates its 50th anniversary, the Locks Gallery is pleased to present for the 2018 Armory Show a selection of works by Jennifer Bartlett (b. 1941), Lynda Benglis (b.1941), and Pat Steir (b.1940), three artists with long ties to the gallery’s exhibition history. On view for the very first time will be Jennifer Bartlett’s large-scale shaped canvas Moth (2001), an important work from a little-known period of production for the artist. Bartlett is acclaimed for her analytical and systematic approaches to painting, particularly through her self-fashioned medium of gridded enameled-steel tiles, which she has employed as a type of modular canvas since the late 1960s. The sweeping 1972 installation Fixed/Variable will be on view here, anchoring the history of her method and foregrounding the unprecedented display of Moth, which references the gridded tiles through oil on canvas, but warps them to vertiginous effects of spatial depth.
The show will feature works by Benglis produced between 1982 and 2017 spanning a range of media including ceramics, paper, and metal. One major work, Hydra (1982) is drawn from the series currently on view in the artist’s sixth solo exhibition at the gallery; this knotted form, made from pleated steel mesh saturated with aluminum, appears simultaneously fluid and frozen, recalling the dynamic draperies of Hellenistic figure sculpture. Also on view are two of Pat Steir’s recent ‘split-canvases,’ a series rooted in her signature method of pouring layers of diluted oil paint. While their compositions allude to the color-field abstraction of Barnett Newman, the atmospheric depth of these paintings equally evokes Eastern landscape traditions, and perhaps primarily speaks to the elemental qualities of paint itself.
Though not conceived as a comparative installation, the Locks 2018 Armory Show presentation highlights important historical and formal resonances between three artists of the same generation. Each made strong impressions on movements of the 1970s, countering the austerity of ‘60s Minimalism with their emphasis on the creative effort, and with a stylistic “looseness” distinct in each artist’s work that makes for a lively intersection. Benglis’s intuitive, often painterly handling of sculptural materials operates in dialogue with the poured painting technique of Steir, who uses gravity to activate an autonomous paint-language of drips, pours, and blooms upon her canvases. Though by comparison Bartlett’s grids and pixel-like marks may seem to exude an aesthetic of control, her practice is driven by the ongoing innovation of her own systems, allowing her to bend flexibly between painterly and conceptual concerns through a career that remains full of surprises.