April 2011

Will Yackulic, Smolder, 2010,
india ink, pencil, oil on unprimed canvas, 11 x 12”.

Aesthetic time frames are elusive in Will Yackulic’s work. Some of this is due to his subject matter: basic geometric forms like tiny pixellike cubes and floating geodesic spheres. Earlier works, mostly on paper, seemed to describe ancient landscapes and allude to meditative tantric drawings. His latest show is touted as a return to oil painting, a medium he has rarely exhibited in. Perhaps he was simply keeping that portion of his practice on the back burner long enough to find a fresh challenge in it.

Titled “Precision & Precarity,” the exhibition comprises thirteen paintings, all similar in size, that cycle through various twentieth-century approaches to geometric abstraction, all with a muted and contemporary gloss. The works depict horizontal and tilted arrangements of crossbeam-like rectangular volumes. The beams suggest architectural structures and formal still life compositions filtered through a host of painting styles and emotional states.

If some works offer Precisionist or Constructivist homage, others, like the sanded-down Over/Under, 2011, call to mind a shrunken, faded version of a 1980s abstract piece by Gerhard Richter. There are a few evocations of Ed Ruscha––the acidic yellow Claypool’s, 2011, has the horizontality of the HOLLYWOOD sign, and the gunpowder-gray Smolder, 2010, with a small burn hole, inserts something actual size—though Yackulic’s sense of play is more earnest, more gently iconoclastic. There is enough irony and quirkiness here to push this beyond simply being a studio exercise and into an arena of artistic risk.

— Glen Helfand