Rebecca Purdum, Installation view, Jack Tilton Gallery, 2011

In her first New York exhibition in about five years, Rebecca Purdum is showing a magnificent group of new paintings at Jack Tilton, through November 5, 2011. The ten paintings in the show are mostly smaller scale works, with only one piece, a large horizontal diptych from 2008, approaching the scale of her best known previous work. The smaller scale, if possibly diminishing the wow factor of the work, does not diminish the concentrated presence of each painting -- the palpable sense of the artist's touch in every inch of the surface -- her total engagement with the most sensuous aspects of her materials. Applying paint with her gloved hands, Purdum slowly builds supple fields of close-valued color to achieve a soft hum that draws one closer. The surfaces are rich accumulations of interactions and encounters over time, with thicker and thinner, oily and matte areas mingling into a dusky soup that is at once ethereal and utterly physical. Her early swirling atmospheres have over the years become more and more still, more and more content to simply be.

Rebecca Purdum, After Colossus, 2010, 40 x 32 inches, oil on panel

Rebecca Purdum, Hourglass (yellow), 2011, 32 x 23 inches, oil on panel

Rebecca Purdum, Ripton 98, 2010, 40 x 32 inches, oil on panel

Rebecca Purdum, Blue Square, 2011, 60 x 60 inches, oil on linen

Rebecca Purdum, Ripton 92, 2009, 14 x 12 inches, oil on canvas on panel