David Reed has said that he sees his paintings titled consecutively #421(1), #421(2), #421(3), and #421(4) as completed color studies. This observation reinforces the significance of the transparent and opaque layers of color that he combines with fluid, plastic lines laid down on the smooth surfaces of polyvinyl polymer resin panels. Reed used tape to mark out areas before applying alkyd impastos to the panels, leaving some areas flat and others in thin relief. Alkyd, a material that artists began to accept in the 1970s, dries quickly compared with oil paint and yet retains, like oil paint, its brilliant, even color and the appearance of wetness even after it solidifies. Painting forms that seem to hang or float in space, Reed bends serpentine lines like ribbons, curled and redoubled, sometimes tightly framed and sometimes loosely contained within rectangular boundaries.
Reed’s drawings suggest that he plans out the overall composition of a painting, since they contain notes, diagrams, and swatches of color on quadrille paper, but this is not the case. “I do not want people to think that the paintings are preplanned,” he said in an interview: “My decisions are made in the process of painting. My plan is always changing."
Reed has said that his work is neither nostalgic nor separate from life, that the past is a place to revisit only insomuch as it has relevance to the present. His colors may bring to mind those of the Day-Glo 1960s pop or op screenprint, and indeed layering of vibrant flat color is a key formal component of his work. Yet colors like hot pink, turquoise, and purple could also be associated with the cartoons and popular culture of today. Similarly, his drips and strokes might recall Jackson Pollock or abstract expressionist gesturalism, except that they look as if they have displaced a kind of film on the surface of the panel, like writing in fog on a window. Atomized lines of color drawn with an airbrush suggest that the same tool might have been used to create that film. Reed also uses glazes which create effects which are more like what one might expect from ink on vellum rather than oil on canvas.
Reed’s forms appear to twist in space and yet at the same time are composed of one plane laid over another. As the artist adds layer upon layer, without any of the paint soaking in, since he lets each layer dry, what happens on each plane remains fundamentally isolated from what happens on the next.
These four acquisitions compliment the one painting by Reed already in the Gallery’s collection. A generous gift from Dorothy and Herbert Vogel, these paintings are now part of the Herbert and Dorothy Vogel Collection.