Readers and lookers run into all kinds of conundrums, both lovely and mind-bending, when we lay eyes on Leslie Wayne’s latest exhibition. Its title, “Rags,” couldn’t be simpler. Its works, however, are anything but simple. Draped, folded, and variously patched together layers of nothing but oil paint, Wayne’s three-dimensional abstractions resemble the rags painters use in their studios—to clean brushes, wipe hands, blot up spills, and rub out mistakes. In this sense, her abstract paintings are utterly realistic: trompe l’oeil stand-ins for the real thing. The only problem is that they are too beautiful to be believable illusions. Their colors are too juicy, their compositions too sophisticated, their shapes too eloquent for them to be anything other than formally rigorous abstractions. Wayne captures the duality built into this series by titling it “Paint/ Rags,” a name that shows us how slippery things can be when we try to define them with words.
The catalogue features an essay by David Pagel.
2014, Jack Shainman Gallery, 62 pages