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Rachel Whiteread
at Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, Texas
Recommendation by Charissa Terranova

Continuing through August 15, 2010

Using varnish and resin, Rachel Whiteread creates shiny yellow and green patinas on the surface of her drawings.  They are surfaces that not only invite touch but also invoke the spatiality and architectonic of the artist’s sculptures. Both a preparatory drawing and record of unfolding thought, “Untitled (Green Bath)” [1995] is a drawing on graph paper of a boxy tub connected to the artist’s three-dimensional casting of an old tub completed a year later. A slip of shiny jade-green resin covers the cubic form of the tub while glossy yellow varnish gives shape to forms somewhere between a flipper and coffee stain that pop out along the far left edge of the tub.

Whiteread’s drawings are at once deeply personal and head-on public. They bring to bear a force of the diaristic on her sculptural work that, though fathomless in terms of poetic layering (think here Bachelard’s “The Poetics of Space,” the linguistic “trace” and a general sense of haunting and ghostliness), is often identifiably commonplace. In “Drawing for Water Tower II” [1997], a yellow varnish-covered water tower perches atop a row of 19th-century midrise buildings covered in white correction fluid creating a formal play of the precious against the stolid. This show reinforces the subtle lyricism of Whiteread’s elegantly dumb three-dimensional objects.


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