Drive Time

What gives Barbeito's paintings their buzz, and what lifts them out of the merely illustrative, is the unusually inventive way he makes them. He really gets physical with the paint, not in an expressionist sense but in a meticulous, cerebral way.

Barbeito builds the bilateral cross sections, and amorphic anomalies out of acrylic paint, layer by layer. Protruding as much as six inches from the canvas, these bumpy eruptions seem to mutate into topological elevations and biological events. Intriguing and weird, it's as if they're living things or tumors. Every section feels like a pixel that describes some physical or mathematical occurrence.


Saint Clair Cemin
Cheim & Read
521 West 23rd Street
Through July 30

Wade Guyton
Andrew Kreps
529 West 20th Street
Through July 30

Pedro Barbeito
Basilico Fine Arts
26 Wooster Street
Through July 30

It all sounds very scientific, and kind of male. And it is. Plus, this kind of theoretical/phenomenological space has been mapped by artists such as Mel Bochner (a teacher of Barbeito's), Will Insley, Sol LeWitt, and Alfred Jensen, not to mention a slew of scientists. In spite of its focus, Barbeito's work is still short on pictorial wholeness. The paintings break down into parts, and there are dead areas. Sometimes the work is too complicated, and his tightness leaves little room for serendipity, whether in the making or the viewing. All this steers the paintings back toward the dangerous intersection of Scientific American covers and medical textbooks. The good news is that the most recent painting is also the best. Here Barbeito's space is integrated, his color iridescent. Looking like some kind of fantasy genesis, or a landscape, this work is filled with possibility and suggests Barbeito is in the driver's seat.

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