Text by Carter Ratcliff
Throughout his career, James Bishop has engaged with European and American traditions of postwar abstraction while developing a subtle, poetic, and highly unique visual language of his own. Alternating between—and at times interweaving—painting and drawing, Bishop’s works explore the ambiguities and paradoxes of material opacity and transparency, flatness and spatiality, as well as linear tectonics and loosely composed forms. Privileging the nuanced and expressive qualities of color and scale, Bishop’s luminous works have been described by American poet and art critic John Ashbery as “half architecture, half air.”
In the early 1960s, Bishop developed the vocabulary of color and form that would characterize his paintings on canvas for over twenty years: a reduced but rich palette, the employment of subtle architectonic abstractions, and a consistently large, square format that reinforces the viewer’s sense of scale and space. By overlapping thin but radiant veils of monochrome color, Bishop creates discrete geometric frameworks that suggest doors, windows, cubes, or what the artist describes as an uncertain scaffolding.
Published to coincide with James Bishop’s first solo presentation in New York since 1987, which was held at David Zwirner in New York in 2014, this volume includes works spanning the artist’s prolific career. The catalogue presents numerous large paintings on canvas from the 1960s to the early 1980s, as well as small-scale paintings on paper, to which Bishop turned exclusively in 1986 and which he continues to produce today. In addition, the book includes details and installation views, providing further context for understanding the artist’s work.
Image: James Bishop, Untitled, 1962-1963