Jules Olitski: Mitt Paintings
Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York
March 6 - April 19 2014
‘From the press release’
Paul Kasmin Gallery is pleased to present Jules Olitski: Mitt Paintings. The exhibition is comprised of eleven ‘mitt pictures’ made between 1988 and 1992 that showcase Olitski’s groundbreaking, tactile approach to painting. Many of the works have never been exhibited. Olitski created his mitt pictures by using his hands to spread paint across canvases in fluid movements that blended colours and created textural imprints that recorded his active gestures.
Known throughout his career for exploring new materials and techniques in painting, Olitski began making his mitt paintings in the late 1980s when Golden Artists Colours sent him a new kind of paint they had recently developed. Using painter’s mitts left in his Bear Island studio by his wife Kristina he mixed the new paint with thick acrylic gels, and the mitt pictures were born. Much like the brooms, squeegees, and spray guns previously used by Olitski, the mitts quickly became an important tool, and one that proved to be a harbinger of further curiosity and experimentation.
The works were neither planned nor sketched in advance; they document the spontaneous and visceral decisions the artist made with his paint-soaked mitts. The iridescent pigments and many shades of shimmering colours shift with the viewer’s position and in response to light.
In an interview, Olitski explained ‘I never wanted to make’ paintings to be seen at a single glance.’ The essence of a ‘mitt picture’ cannot be grasped in one look; the canvases’ surfaces and colour must be experienced from different angles to experience the evocative illusions they form when merged together by Olitski’s hand.