David Aylsworth, The Reverses Wiped Away

Along with their own considerable merits and pleasures, the paintings of David Aylsworth’s current exhibition at Inman Gallery provide a case study in how some artists can find seemingly infinite room to maneuver within a narrow register.

Each of the show’s small-to-medium-size paintings answers to the gallery’s description, “In nearly every work, Aylsworth applies white paint over layers of color paint to delimit compositions of angular shapes and bulbous forms. The surface of each painting evidences this process of additive erasure. White expanses cover, but also reveal the edges of previously painted forms.”

Still, if you’ve seen one, you most emphatically haven’t seen them all. In Aylsworth’s hands, white is the color of surprise, yielding a John Singer Sargent-worthy range of off-whites that are notable, not only for their subtle chromatic variety, but for their spatial dexterity and functional versatility. Sometimes, white virtually annihilates, wiping out huge swathes of a painting’s history; elsewhere it’s integral to a picture’s architecture; in other cases, it achieves the decadent consistency of wedding-cake icing.

Most ravishing and mysterious of all are a handful of all-off-white paintings in which no colorful edges remain. Barely there, yet irresistibly seductive, they emanate both a jewel-like quality befitting their small size and an outsized presence that belies it. They embody an instant when painting’s two contradictory imperatives – to paint and to forget everything you know – slip into a perfect, momentary stalemate.


David Aylsworth: The Reverses Wiped Away
Inman Gallery
May 25-July 7

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