It’s winter in Stockholm and while Stanley Whitney’s newest exhibition can’t cure you of vitamin D deficiency, it can probably brighten your day.
A painting by Stanley Whitney is a glorious thing to behold. Stacked multi-coloured blocks are arranged into a somewhat haphazard grid that will tower over even the tallest gallery-goer.
Interestingly enough, the title of Whitney’s first Stockholm exhibition isn’t a direct reference to the world’s most famous Scouse musicians – it takes its title from Nina Simone’s rendition of the song. This is typical of the Philadelphia-born artist, who often pays homage to his musical heroes when titling his work.
Whitney manages to take the somewhat limited idea of a grid-based painting and imbue it with a real spontaneity. A jazz afficionado, Whitney partially improvises his paintings, and by applying paint on the top left of the canvas down to the bottom right, he works intuitively in a way that invites comparison with prose and music composition. Step closer to the finished product, however, and you’ll spot the layers of paint scoured and reworked across the canvass.
Whitney’s works have been featured in numerous international exhibitions since the early 70s. Recent exhibitions include the Studio Museum in Harlem (2015) and the National Academy Museum, New York (2012).
Words: Daisy Fernandez