There’s a classic look and feel to London artist Danny Rolph’s new paintings. With shards of color that jostle alongside sinewy curves and biomorphic forms in a whirlwind of shattered rhythms, they look like something James Rosenquist might paint if he gave up popular-culture sources and went to study with Hans Hofmann.
Moving up in scale and further into abstraction from his earlier collages on Triple Wall, Rolph adds a quiet dialogue with the spaces at Barbara Davis Gallery by painting pale pink “whispers” – what he and Davis call the simple, hard-edge geometric shapes – directly onto the wall next to the canvases.
Seen individually, the whispers might seem like a gimmicky move, but together they have the effect of further uniting an already cohesive installation, particularly in the back gallery, where Rolph’s paintings have just the right amount of breathing room. (Because Rolph uses acrylic paint, one of the only downsides to looking at his highly pleasurable work is that in close quarters, you sometimes notice areas that suffer just enough from a lack of sensuousness that you wish they were painted in oil.)
The dozen paintings are drawn from three series: Cardinal, which generally has the most open but also structured compositions; Return, which tends to be darker and more congested; and Enterprise, which falls somewhere between the two. What the titles mean is anybody’s guess, but Rolph continues to get ample mileage out of a pictorial language that evokes both personal memories and the rush of images in an amped-up culture.
Danny Rolph: Duke of Burgundy
Barbara Davis Gallery
September 7-October 5