Richard Serra: Rifts review

4 out of 5 stars
Richard Serra: Rifts review
© Richard Serra/ DACS, London, 2018. Photo by Rob McKeever. Courtesy the artist and Gagosian

You almost don’t want to like it. Great minimalist impresario Richard Serra’s ‘Rift’ drawings are just massive sheets of monochrome black with little white arrows splitting apart the visual plane. That’s it. Big, black monochromes with a bit of white. Simple, repetitive nothingness; monumental dude-art, the drawing equivalent of some macho old guy trying too hard to make up for something.

But, annoyingly, they’re great. Serra creates so much tension in the canvases. Up close, the thick, tar-like bile of the works is actually painfully fragile; thin sheets of suspended paper caked in too much pigment, aching to tear. The thin strips of white totally ruin the uniformity, crack your eyes’ attempts to make everything cohesive. They make each work into a series of continents ripping apart unbearably slowly. You can almost feel the trembling, hear the juddering deformation. Are those white slabs the negative space of the empty page, or of work uncompleted? I dunno, make up your own crap.

What I do know is Serra’s drawings are grossly overbearing, sickeningly imposing and unbearably tense, and that’s a really, really good thing.

By: Eddy Frankel

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