Timothy App’s States of Mind (at Goya Contemporary through March 31, by appointment) is a confident, disciplined show of recent work by an accomplished painter who has spent a full half-century exploring the possibilities inherent in hard-edged geometric abstraction. Featuring seven large canvases and six smaller works on paper, it’s a balanced, cohesive, and handsomely installed exhibition—it’s typical, in other words, of this artist’s meticulous, intentional practice.
If you’re itching for overt political content, raucous figuration, pure spontaneity, or gestural bravado, you may want to look elsewhere, but if you’re open to an art built around subdued subtlety, formal nuance, and pensive meditation, these works can reward richly. In discussing his work, App likes to allude to his lifelong attempt to find what he calls authentic ways of making a painting. This show offers an impressive display of the results of that search.
Start by spending some time with the first work in the show: “Lux Casula.” (App has always favored cryptic, polyvalent titles, which he sometimes gleans from conversations, readings, or even dictionaries—and which tend to suggest a sober erudition). Like all of the works in the show, it’s fundamentally symmetrical and features a carefully composed arrangement of precisely delineated right-angled forms. It’s large (at 72 by 72 inches) and delights in a basic tension between the planar surface of the work and implications of overlap and depth.
A massive field of off-white fills much of the canvas but is interrupted by—or obscured by, or stacked between, or adjacent to—a broad rectangle formed of a misty pumice and, along the painting’s base, an assertive strip of purplish pigeon gray. Meanwhile, smaller, denser nodes of black and brownish-green occupy the corners and feel almost like rivets; they punctuate the work, lending it a sense of architectonic logic. The overall effect is beguiling and almost musical in its marriage of structure and abstraction.