With the February-March 2006 exhibition, Howard Scott returns to the subject of an admired exhibition he mounted in 1996 in his SoHo space, paintings which address a palette in which white is predominant (if not indeed the sole hue).
White has a host of associations in life as well as in the realm of art. It is almost synonymous with cleanliness - clean sheets on a bed, nurses' uniforms… - and with purity - a nun's wimple, new fallen snow in a gritty city… . It is the ground on which both the daily newspaper and invitations to very special occasions are printed, and, as such, symbolic of both records of past events and heralds of new beginnings. It is also the flag of surrender.
As a hue used in the making of works of art, it is equally as elemental and primal as its opposite, black. For both the provocateur and the visionary, white used as a dominant presence and black used in the same manner have illustrious histories. The great Russian painter, Kasimir Malevich, painted what is arguably the world's most famous "white painting" in 1918, Suprematist Composition: White on White. This work of modest scale, discolored with the passage of time, remains a potent challenge to the past and portent of things to come - a talisman of modernism. Such disparate artists as Mark Tobey, Robert Rauschenberg, and Robert Ryman have focussed on white in highly memorable ways.
Although white and black are each permissive of an artist's achieving exquisite nuance, it could be argued that the encyclopedic range of whites has a greater capacity for evoking a wider extent of emotions than do hues of black. The forthcoming exhibition promises to reveal a variety of approaches to the role of whites in painting - not least of which is the attraction for many artists of applying one or more layerings of a white hue over a single or several brilliant hues, which - in a variety of subtle ways - are allowed to slowly reveal their presence to the viewer. The challenge of achieving the seeing of color through other color(s) is a major concern of several artists in the exhibition, including Rebecca Salter and Robin Rose.
An important source of Mr Scott's fondness for the 1996 exhibition, White, was its having been the vehicle for his introducing a number of artists to the New York audience. The work of two of these, the London-based painter, Rebecca Salter, and Vincent Hamel, a native and life-long resident of Amsterdam, has gone on to become integral to the gallery's sensibility. Two other artists - Robin Rose and Winston Roeth - who participated in the earlier exhibition will be present in the forthcoming show and will be joined by nine additional artists.
* Click on WHITE II at the top of the page to view exhibition