Ms. Coulis’s paintbrush produces other tricks. Although the canvases are composed of layers of flat color, the barely defined subjects — food, domestic animals, teapots and other containers — are outlined with two or three veins of contrasting color that create a glowing effect, like neon tubes. You see this particularly in “Cat and Potato Chips” (2017), in which the different-colored outlines amplify the spooky presence of a black cat and the banal (toxic?) food. In “Hot Dog Sun” (2017), sausage links fanning out from a yellow half-circle serve as rays of light, while elsewhere overlapping forms are colored in disparate hues to suggest transparency, refraction or multiple points of view.
The news release accompanying the show suggests a predictable roster of painterly references: Giorgio Morandi, William Scott and Gary Hume. (I would add William Bailey and Cézanne.) Although Ms. Coulis leans heavily on art history, she breaks with it in interesting ways, stripping the canvas down to near essentials and transforming still life into the intriguing-sounding “Table Studies.” Balancing minimal and dense, electric and subdued, her paintings initially seem conservative, but they start with traditional elements and end up turning the tables on them.
Dominick Di Meo
Through Oct. 22. JTT, 191 Chrystie Street, Manhattan; 212-574-8152, jttnyc.com.
Dominick Di Meo, born in Niagara Falls, N.Y., in 1927, has spent the better part of a century thinking about his childhood treatment in a polio ward, but you can hardly blame him. He did spend four years strapped to a bed, and saw many fellow patients carried out in body bags. What’s surprising is that his long preoccupation with the specter of death should have achieved, at least as evidenced in his work, such a good-humored, marital intimacy.
In two large black-and-white, mixed-media drawings he made in Chicago in the mid-60s, titled “The Somnambulator” and “Somnambulator,” Mr. Di Meo treats his subject with theatrical distance. Slender white arms, legs and mask-like faces — as well as, in the earlier drawing, forks — fly across a simple landscape of existential night in loose heaps. What isn’t clear is if they are bodies falling apart or provisional human identities coming accidentally into being.
But he grabs his subject in a hearty, if still slightly formal, embrace in a series of small wall-mounted sculptures made between the 1970s and the ’90s, totemic constructions of crumpled canvas mounted on wire mesh and coated in various synthetics. The untitled pieces are all a warm gray color evoking funerary ashes, newspaper ink or discarded papier-mâché and decorated with scores of tiny white putty spheres. Marked with three black dots like the holes in a bowling ball, they split the difference between a skull in the Parisian catacombs and a happy face.
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