Curt Barnes at Alessandra Gallery
Nancy Grove, Arts Magazine, April 1976

Curt Barnes' paintings are not physically complex: single-color canvases overlaid with matching, attached wood strips accompanied by two or three sets of differently colored painted stripes. But experiencing them is enormously complicated since it involves simultaneous apprehension of a number of visual relationships, no one of which appears to be subordinate to the others. Spaces between elements and the elements themselves compete for attention: edges, textures, dimensions, directions, and colors are in subtle dissonance.

345-Y consists of a squarish yellow canvas with three yellow wood strips, four airbrushed gray bands, and five thin black lines. The three colors (four if one counts the shadowed under-edges of the wood strips) create real (relief) and illusionist spaces. Canvas and wood radiate, the black lines seem incised into or floating in front of the surface, while the gray bands hover somewhere in between. Intervals between these elements, and the relationships of each to the shape, dimensions, edges, and textures of the canvas and of other elements, are equally immediate and multiple. Changes of slant from one line to the next, from one kind of line to the next, and from one set of lines to the next are anti-coalescent, helping prevent visual coming-togetherness. This multiplicity of effect is engaging; their all-at-onceness is fascinating. These are demanding, expansive works, requiring alertness and concentration.