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Space Within the Colour

Stanley Whitney, the 73 year old abstract artist, reaches for the handle of the bathroom door. “What you would do,” he begins, “is practise with the door, because it can swing.” He is showing us how to dance — the jitterbug, to be precise. With one hand on the knob, he briefly transforms, his feet, hips, and knees moving to accommodate an invisible and opposing form. “You see what I mean?” he asks. The door creaks loudly, an agreeable enough partner.

This impromptu performance — a practised navigation of space, with its unique rules and rhythms — is not dissimilar to the work for which Whitney has become so well known. In his pieces, richly hued blocks of colour operate within the parameters of an irregular grid. Rectangular chunks of pigment butt up against one another, jostling for autonomy. The edges are imperfect. On occasion, paint bleeds. The canvasses radiate a magnetic discord...

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