The Thingness of Color at DODGE gallery

From left to right: Cordy Ryman, Franklin Evans, and Matthew Rich. Installation view. The Thingness of Color, DODGE gallery, New York.

Literally in the shadow of the boxy New Museum building, in the burgeoning Lower East Side gallery district of Manhattan, a new group show at DODGE gallery is notable not only for its contribution to a growing attention to sculptural and installation forms of painting, but also because three of the four artists exhibited here were included in our 11 to Watch in 2011: Editor's Picks earlier this year. The Thingness of Color, which includes work by Sarah Cain, Franklin Evans, Matthew Rich, and Cordy Ryman, explores exactly what the title suggests—the three-dimensional qualities of hue itself—with colorful object-hood firmly in tow.  —Evan J. Garza, Editor-at-Large

Sarah Cain, Triangle for R.J.M., 2009 | Feathers, acrylic, gold, silver, and bronze leaf, ribbon, gouache, string, gel medium and watercolor on paper, 66 3/8 x 45 1/8 x 1/2 inches. Courtesy DODGE gallery, New York and Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco.

It's an airtight show, with painted, wooden installations by Cordy Ryman neatly scattered on either side of the Rivington Street space (with a solo show by Sheila Gallagher downstairs in the rear gallery). Works by Matthew Rich, who was recently featured in the famed James and Audrey Foster Prize show last year at the ICA Boston, dot the adjacent wall. It's a tough room for Rich, with Ryman and Franklin Evans each reaching out into the gallery with their respective installations, but for all their flatness, Rich's wall-mounted paper works are emphatically on theme here, revealing both painterly qualities and subtle three-dimensional qualities.

If the conversation here is about chromatic possibilities, as it certainly appears to be, then Sarah Cain is on point. Possibly the most sculptural of the artists here in her own practice—often creating site-specific paintings and installations that explore the sculptural properties of paint, as she did for the 2008 California Biennial—Cain's exhibited works here are framed. Her mixed media pieces unearth rich chromatic abstractions that are less thing-like and operate more as environments for color and form to have an explosive field day. The work is exciting, and the show itself occupies a necessary place for the current moment in contemporary painting, where artists are consistently leaving the canvas in search of better real estate.

Installation view. The Thingness of Color, DODGE gallery, New York.

Evan J. Garza is a curator, critic, and is Editor-at-Large for New American Paintings and New American Paintings /Blog.

The Thingness of Color is on view at DODGE gallery, New York, through May 8, 2011. Click here to see more April Must-See Painting Shows!

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