Alex Katz’s landscapes are big and friendly, welcoming you with their direct, carefree applications of paint. They make you wonder how he gets straight to the point with so much joy and ease.
In several paintings, small dwellings are dwarfed by the majesty of forest and sky. In 10 am, verdant copses seem to turn somersaults around a tiny, whitewashed cabin in a yellow field.
However, the best paintings are the ones that release imagery from its descriptive duty, imparting a curious, almost cartoony quality. In Black Brook 18 (2014), for example, swaths of Gatorade green sandwich a brown-black band flecked with green circles and white slashes. Brushstrokes become animated attributes of the landscape as smears of paint play about in the composition’s liquid center.
It’s easy to imagine the artist at work here, what with the occasional paintbrush bristle left embedded here or there in the canvas. Their evidence heightens the feeling of intimate connection, the sense that you are somehow there, in the presence of a painter at the height of his powers.—Jennifer Coates