by Crispin Sartwell
Locks Gallery is pleased to present Jennifer Bartlett: Recitative, a solo exhibition featuring the artist’s monumental titular painting. Composed of 372 steel plates and measuring over 158 feet across, Bartlett’s colossal polyptych navigates the reductionistic practices of Minimalism and rule-based systems of Conceptualism. Recitative marks Bartlett’s twenty-first solo show with the gallery.
Wrapping around the entirety of the gallery’s second floor exhibition space, Recitative (2009-10) is a sweeping exploration of color theory and tonality through the artist’s familiar mark-making, including of colored dots, lines, and lively brushstrokes. Unfolding across Bartlett’s signature steel plates, the piece steadily grows in size as the repetition of squares builds in series of threes. This progression continues through a collection of forty-nine panels painted with primary, secondary, and tertiary color combinations, followed by forty-five grouped dotted sections. Recitative’s final grouping presents a contrasting break from the vibrant, repetitious nature of the painting’s familiar grid pattern as a singular fluid black line traverses across twenty-four final plates at overlapping angles.
Recitative, by definition, is the rhythmically free vocal style dating back to 16th century Florentine monodies, which mimics the natural inflections of everyday speech. Often used as a narrative tool in operas and oratorios, the practice offers a vocal fluidity allowing for the seamless transition between musical composition and exposition. Similarly, Recitative reflects such interludes through a distinct construct that unfolds with familiar shapes and colors, yet remains captivating through its thematic variations. Exemplified by the rising and falling accents of each triplet, the work reflects the musicality and cadence of an animated dialogue.
Jennifer Bartlett (b. 1941) received her B.A. from Mills College, CA, and her B.F.A. (1964) and M.F.A. (1965) from Yale University. Her work is represented in over one hundred museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, NY; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; the Tate Modern, London; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY. Her recent retrospective History of the Universe, curated by Klaus Ottmann traveled to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, PA and Parrish Art Museum, NY. Other solo exhibitions have taken place at the Brooklyn Museum, NY; The Tate Gallery, London, England; and The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT.
Jennifer Bartlett: Recitative will be on view at Locks Gallery from October 8 through November 27, 2021. The gallery is open 10 am to 6 pm from Tuesday through Saturday, and by appointment. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-629-1000.