The idea of support—technical, historical, conceptual—drifted through “Nancy Haynes: anomalies and non sequiturs,” a tight, convincing overview spanning 40 years of production. In Haynes’s examination of painting’s fundamentals, atmospheric effects coexist with exaggerated materiality. Wide stretchers give the shadowy chapter I (2014) a boxy look, like a carton of gathering gloom. And the artist’s applicator barely brushed the coarse linen of four empty horizontals (1997). The painting’s segmented bands echoed photographic memory (1992), a life-size photo of a philosophically inclined reader’s bookshelves. The image equates textural and textual underpinnings.
In five luminously beautiful works dated 2014–15, thin graphite lines seemed alternately to hover before and recede into green fields of fluorescent paint activated by ambient ultraviolet light. The lines describe schematic versions of specific artworks overlaid in pairs; fugitive drawing (Hokusai/Heilmann), for example, appropriates a woodland waterfall by Hokusai and an eccentric polygon by Mary Heilmann. Nearby, a facsimile of the wooden lectern in Giovanni Bellini’s Saint Francis in the Desert bore not a skull and a book but a lumpy glass sculpture and a banker’s lamp emitting UV light. In Avatamsaka sutra (2014), three samples of various blacks are labeled with that Buddhist verse, declaring: “Delusion grasps different forms but the elements have no distinctions.”
A version of this story originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 108.