This exhibition of fifteen small abstract acrylic paintings all titled Front feels like a collection of pages upon which are chronicled subtle, unutterable notes on the experiment of simply being. Illinois-based artist Michael Wille seems to have stripped himself of everything but the primary materials at hand (paint, canvas) and approaches each piece as an occasion to explore a single impulse. Dim gold surfaces overlap with jagged, triangulated forms of pale yellow and turquoise; a silver surface is carved into a labyrinthine series of squares, through which sublayers of white, gray and raw canvas appear. Angular, maize-colored shapes overlay deep strata of browns and reds; hot pink undercoats are fractured into sliced platinum squares. Some pieces have been sanded over, giving them a distressed matte texture, while others have a glassy sheen. In each a small wordless problem is confronted and subtly probed, and while discrete compositional resolutions may be reached, the exhibit as a whole suggests an ongoing inquiry. This productive compulsion — to revise, reorder, re-color, re-texturize — contributes a lively unease to the show: This is no closed book ready for shelving, but, rather an open and discursive source. Through February 23 at Hoffman LaChance Contemporary, 2713 Sutton Boulevard, Maplewood; 314-960-5322 or www.hoffmanlachancefineart.com. Hours: noon-3 p.m. Fri.-Sat. and by appointment.
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