CHRISTOPHER WOOL at Luhring Augustine

Christopher Wool, Untitled, 2007, 126" x 96", enamel on linen

In his new show at Luhring Augustine, Christopher Wool is showing two related groups of work – large grisaille paintings, and large silkscreen prints that are like the paintings once removed. Like Warhol at his best, Wool has always made paintings that disavow their own obvious and deliberate beauty. It was, I think, three years ago that he introduced his present painting process which involves a dialogue between spray enamel meandering lines, and their negation with solvent using either a very large brush or a mop. The process is simple to the point of dumb (or brilliant), and yields an endless variety of dynamic effects, as lines are dissolved into bold brushy fields, reintroduced and dissolved again. Each painting looks as though it could have happened in a matter of minutes, and it is this immediacy and offhandedness that is their strength. They’re a bit like thin black & white DeKoonings with all the angst removed – and as such, they challenge us with the tension between their beauty and their glibness.