PHILADELPHIA, PA.- Locks Gallery
is presenting an exhibition of early grid drawings and plates by Jennifer Bartlett, on view from March 23rd through April 30, 2016.
The Mind in Action: Early Drawings and Plates, 1968-1975 is a survey of the seminal, pre-Rhapsody grid drawings and steel plate paintings that became Bartletts trademark. The serial, systems-based constructions of dots and grids allowed for near-infinite possibilities for the artist to explore.
Throughout her career, Bartletts work has resisted easy categorization. The early, investigative works in this exhibition relate to Minimalism and Conceptual Art while also quietly transgressing the rules that defined other works of this era. Akin to the process of her mentor Sol LeWitt, Bartletts plate paintings were created by following specific directions set forth by the artist herself. However, unlike LeWitt whose conceptual works are performed by others, Bartletts insistence on executing the work herself demonstrates a belief that the very act of mark making is integral to the artists investigation.
The process of creating the gridded dot paintings is grounded on a methodical system of applying dots to a one-foot square unit, but the act is not merely perfunctory. Bartlett maintained a rigorous process pairing the application of paint with periods of thoughtful reflection, often wiping the work clean and starting over if the results were unsatisfactory. The emergent work is at once logical and lyrical, minimal and expressive, and moves fluidly between abstraction and figurative representation.The series of drawings and plates created by Bartlett during this time undoubtedly led to the creation of Rhapsody, the legendary 987-plate painting that would become the pivotal work of the artists career.