Over a period of five years, from 2011 to 2016, Howard methodically developed this suite of ten paintings, the dimensions of each mirroring the artist’s height and arm span. A T-square — its form reminiscent of a disproportioned crucifix — steadies the artist’s hand as rich blood-red paint is dragged downwards, staining the luminous pink surface dark crimson. This process is then repeated; placing, slicing, swiping, and wiping. Finally, towels used to clean the T-square are folded and placed on the plinth, as evidence of the aftermath. “The essence of this work,” as Thomas Krens of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation describes it, “is performance: painting as dance, movement, intellectual rigor, and extreme economy in the application of an intense, layered, disciplined, and infinite gestural difference.”
Howard has referred to acts of violence planned on a scale that overwhelms; these threats to the stability of everyday life she describes as “…not about a bacchanalian violence, but rather the acts of a steady calm hand on a greater scale: maximum damage, planned and calmly carried out; hence the slow slice through the alizarin crimson oil paint, exposing the fluorescent beneath, raw and defenseless, the repetition of canvas after canvas, the same but different.”
Principal exhibition support provided by The Bohen Foundation. Additional support provided by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the Barr Foundation, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Paintings of Violence (Why I am not a mere Christian) (detail), 2011 – 2016
Oil and acrylic on canvas, wood, 7 towels, and pigment
10 canvases, each 168 × 168 cm / (10 canvases, each 66⅛ ×66⅛ in) / Box: 77.5 × 35.6 × 33 cm (30½ × 14 × 13 in) / With towels: 109.2 × 35.6 × 33 cm (43 × 14 × 13 in)
Courtesy of the artist and Blain|Southern