David Aylsworth tried working with red the same way he works with white once, but it wasn't meant to be. Despite that failed relationship, I don't think anyone's in mourning (red's more Rothko's thing, anyway). White has been incredibly generous to the Houston artist.
In "The Reverses Wiped Away," a new show at Inman Gallery of his geometric abstractions (with titles still geekily borrowed from show-tune lyrics), Aylsworth displays paintings that are predominantly stark white planes and hard edges. In the works that do employ color, the white takes on an erasing quality, overtaking the canvas.
Thanks to these plays between color and form, there's great depth and tension in these works as the angular shapes interact with each other. In "Vaguely Discontented," three triangle-like pieces convene on the left side of the canvas, floating. In "Doors Slamming Left and Right," a triangle holds court in the middle of the canvas, almost swallowed whole by the enveloping white. "Indubitably" is like a natural progression of this painting, a comically small patch of color barely present at the intersection of Aylsworth's hard lines on a rough white canvas. It's like a portal to somewhere where there's free rein of color.
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Though there is a lot of white, it isn't all the same unadulterated color. Alysworth's method is to apply white paint over layers of color paint, creating off-kilter, angular shapes with each layer. In the process, the white mixes with the underlying colors, taking on pinkish, purplish or greenish hues while trying to seemingly obliterate the original color, these false starts of pink, purple and green.
This is the artist's impressive seventh solo show at the gallery, and his productivity is enviable. The 24 oil-on-canvas paintings on display have been made within the last three years -- with more than half of them made this year alone. Among all the white of these new works, "Moliere and Keats are Enraged and Engaged in a Row" is a curious specimen. The most colorful of the bunch, it's bordered by mustard-yellow and lime-green, the white working its way inside around green and brown geometric shapes. But even amid these bold, unique colors, the white manages almost inconceivably to stand out the most. Here, it's easy to see why the color has such a hold over the artist.
"David Aylsworth: The Reverses Wiped Away" is at Inman Gallery, 3901 Main, now through July 7. For more information, call 713-526-7800 or visit the gallery's Web site.