Abstract Critical

Robert Linsley on Grids


One of the topics Robert Linsley has returned to again and again in his blog www.newabstraction.net is the grid. One the main worries that underpins this return is that grids are over before they have begun: that as a pre-existent form they are always the same, and so cut off the possibility for invention and limit experience. An interesting counter-current to this is what Linsley has called his ‘defense of orthogonals’. Here he distinguished between, on the one hand, the potential beauty of orthogonals in the world and, and the other, the way that within painting a two-dimensional and potentially infinite grid can serve to deny or negate the ‘real space we move through’.

In this post Linsley looks at a painting by Nicholas Poussin and how it show that ‘verticals staggered in space allow all the beauties of a gridded composition without inhibiting the movement of air and space around and through it.’ The implicit suggestion that abstract painting can progress not through endless reference but through a return to the physical world is attractive, as is the facing of historical representational painting as a means of doing so.