Kit White: Devolution of the Modernist Field



Copy, Kit White's painting from his recent show at Andre Zarre in Chelsea

Copy, Kit White’s painting from his recent show at Andre Zarre in Chelsea









Unforgiving arrangements on a nostalgia laden landscape of desolation march through Kit White’s new series of paintings. Less a field of potential than one of ruin. Yet, wait, could this be a cleaned slate ready for action? Naw. That doubt is the confounding posed in White’s potent exhibition at Andre Zarre which closed on Saturday.

That I saw it almost in the last hour of the last day seems apt. These works occupy the urgent last hour in psychic time. White’s comment on the contemporary condition, a society rent by struggle, some fenced in, others fenced out; or his own disappointment in the loss of late modernist precepts, we are unsure. The evidence of tracings — Guston ink drawings come to mind — now after-images, faint, hovering in the past, rudimentary leavings, ideas of architecture, too, they are barely present, like the itch of memory of a memory at the back of the mind, annoying but without the satisfaction of a precise recall.   Covering the fades are awkward, left-handed detritus of the new forbidding age.   Whether documentary film footage of the camps or a riff on that worn out trope “mark making,” White doesn’t blink and has it all here owned by his eye and his steadfast refusal to use his extraordinarily sensitive touch of his earlier work. Only one blush of pink, on one painting [above], a faintly rosy cloud, a smear of paint, remains. Good news? Or the last dancing ions of the bomb?

A comment on the WTC Museum


Torso in plastic tub on West 36th Street, night

Spotted last night on the street, it struck me as funny for the visual shock of the extreme plastic white, in the dark. But this morning reading more about the WTC Museum, its crass gift shop and that it has an admission charge, I want to use this image for another purpose:   to remind you, Reader, of how far we have come from that awful day in 2001 where our values were adjusted that morning to what was the essential as humans, caring for each other no matter what it took.  We learned that heroes weren’t rock stars or handsome jocks with jawbones and  terrific smiles on the screen, but people just doing their jobs and being in the moment helping each another.

This shot now starts to make me think of the body parts, the stink of death on the pile, the months of acrid smoke that hung in the air, the dust that seemed to get into everything we owned.  No more irony, we said.  No more forgetting our values, we promised.  No more thinking about money and possessions when the only thing that means anything is those we love, we affirmed.

Back to normal really meant more money, more extreme profit-taking, more stealing from the homeowners with mortgage scams that would soon collapse like the towers on the innocents.   And now we come to the WTC Museum on a site which should have become a simple park open to everyone instead of a new chance for more money for the profiteers.  A Museum designed to break your heart with objects that bring everything back as if you are living through the awful day again.  A gift shop.  All this for only $24 admission fee.  Is there no shame?