Featured Review: Erik Spehn: Six Whites/Three Reds

Featured Review: Erik Spehn: Six Whites/Three Reds This St. Louis artist's subtle and exquisite exhibition of abstract paintings provides, with slow scrutiny, a compact education in a singular abstract visual vocabulary. Grid lines, canvas edges and suffused luminosity emerge from this work — divided chromatically between (as the title suggests) shades of red and white. At first glance the methodically woven surface textures of these pieces appear like single color fields, but on closer inspection they open to intricately dense variety: An under-painted swath of black lines reveals itself from beneath a stratum of scarlet; a rigid grid slides away from reaching a flush edge or slowly swerves away from linearity; the space between weaves widens, contracts or itself becomes the foregrounded mark. For every rigorously repeated gesture there is a counter-gesture, and each piece corresponds to a necessary other. Thus the exhibit rewards a slow, considered read with alternating meditative stillness and raw vibrancy. Through January 23 at Schmidt Contemporary Art, 615 North Grand Boulevard; 314-575-2648 or www.schmidtcontemporaryart.com. Hours: noon-5 p.m. Wed.-Fri., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.

Erik Spehn, Threat, acrylic on linen, 2008, 72 x 75 inches.
Erik Spehn, Threat, acrylic on linen, 2008, 72 x 75 inches.

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