Art Green’s intensely colourful canvases

According to Art Green as someone suffering from a head cold and with time to spare I constitute the perfect audience for the selection of his paintings on view this month at Stride Gallery — his work doesn’t require an education in art to enjoy and understand.

Thus bolstered I went to Stride Gallery where I met with the paintings that make up Green’s show Indirect Objects. I was confronted by intensely colourful and irregularly shaped canvases. They are banded with aluminum strapping and screwed down as though Green has made a desperate bid to contain the shifting spatial possibilities of his surfaces through the sheer force of construction.

Since Green’s involvement with the Hairy Who a ’60s Chicago group of visual artists known for the impudent humour of their work his paintings have become less rebellious in common terms. However his peculiar sense of humour has intensified with his interest in the way that space is perceived organized and structured in the mind of the viewer.

His fascination with spatial organization and optical illusion began with his interest in the Necker cube a line drawing of a cube that due to the ambiguity of spatial relations between the lines optically flips between being perceived from above and below. In his paintings Green plays with the perception of what falls where in a series of overlapping planes that are usually only paint on a surface. Blockbuster (1987) presents itself as a strange humanoid geometrical figure created from the possible unfoldings of a cube presented at the foot of the beast in question. The viewer can trace those permutations across the surface with the cube like a fairground puzzle. The prize for completion is a sense of satisfaction at proving the possibility of the construction. Occasionally Green reminds viewers that they too may exist within a plane of visual presentation. A shadow of a figure presents itself on the surface of the painting. That same shadow shape then becomes an icon on the side of what could be an unfolded box in another painting.

What does it all mean? Well maybe nothing more than how unreliable our sense of visual perception can be. How much more do we need than to be entertained for an afternoon or a lifetime unravelling the possibilities of visual perception and its manipulation?

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