Louise Nevelson + James Little, an exhibition pairing Nevelson’s monochromatic black sculptures with Little’s new series of large-scale, black-toned paintings, opens today at Rosenbaum Contemporary, 150 Yamato Road, Boca Raton, Fla., and will remain on view through October 8. The exhibition can be viewed three different ways. Groups of up to four people who are quarantining together can make an appointment for a dedicated time slot to see the works in person by calling (561) 994-9180. Appointments can also be made for personal Zoom tours. A self-guided virtual tour is also available at http://bit.ly/Nevelson-Little.
While at first glance the pairing of Nevelson’s works with Little’s may seem to be driven solely by their use of black pigment, the two artists and their works actually have much more in common. Both artists perceived black as a color versus the absence of color, both artists were deliberate in their use of black tones, and the work of both artists, despite using only black as a color, is surprisingly complex.
In creating her sculptures, Nevelson assembled everyday objects and elevated them in the resulting compositions by painting them entirely in black, which, to her was “the most aristocratic color.” In creating her assemblages, she was very meticulous and methodical, deliberately choosing objects and positioning them so as to cast shadows within the overall blackness.
In creating his new Black Paintings series, Little was equally methodical, layering oil pigments with beeswax to create varying tones and depths of black. As with Nevelson’s sculptures, every element in Little’s paintings is deliberately placed. “Everything has to have a job, a role to play,” Little said. While he uses repeating patterns in his work, his paintings are not based on repetition alone. The tones, angles and lines compete with one another as part of an underlying structure, creating a conversation that gives each painting its spirit or voice, resulting in an aesthetic experience for the viewer. “A painting will tell you what it needs,” Little said. “It’s up to you whether you want to listen.” This aspect of his process is similar to how the results can be experienced. Viewers who take the time to really look at Nevelson’s and Little’s work will absorb their underlying spirit.