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Pam Glick’s code theory

Pam Glick, installation view

Contributed by Jason Andrew / Artists often have generative strategies for jumpstarting a work. The AbExers’ had their automatism and the minimalists had their procedural arrangements. For her new paintings, on display at The Journal Gallery in their rotating “Tennis Elbow” series, Pam Glick seems to embrace both the automatic and the procedural.

Pam Glick, installation view

I’m a huge fan of the sci-fi action film The Matrix. When Keanu Reeves’ character Neo begins to intuitively translate the binary numeric system cascading down a post-apocalyptic computer screen, the film gains momentum. Staring intensely at Glick’s paintings I found a way into her work—by thinking about code theory.

Glick has been celebrated for her “improvisational flair,” and for many years her paintings have been compositionally based on a matrix. Densely painted, the new paintings incorporate painted marks that are sectioned into rows that generate linear combinations. Through multiple works, there is a single band of painted information uniquely chroma-keyed to the surrounding fields. This single vertical row space serves as a generator-matrix, driving the narrative of a given painting towards a final resolution. As in The Matrix, these bands seem to reference the “real world” as distinct from a controlled and regulated one – privileged moments of consciousness within Glick’s matrix.

Pam Glick, detail, installation view
Pam Glick, installation view

Because she leaves most of the paintings “untitled,” we are left to decipher their purpose. Glick’s visual clues are her uses of color, though they never adhere to Josef Albers’ prescribed combinations. We read the painted surface as two-dimensional but for a few gaps and the occasional sliver-band of striated color. It’s been evident over the years that Glick knows how to paint. These new works reflect her increasing confidence that she can deliberately disrupt her own conventions without losing control of meaning. Like Neo in his closing telephone call back to the Matrix, Glick is determined to show us “a world where anything is possible,” and substantially succeeds.

Pam Glick: Tennis Elbow 85,” The Journal Gallery, 45 White Street, New York, NY. Through August 12, 2021.

About the author: Jason Andrew is an independent scholar, curator, and producer. Follow him on Instagram at @jandrewarts

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2 Comments

  1. Insightful and on point. Helpful to me too.
    Many thanks from Buffalo.

    Best
    Pam

  2. Intriguing work. Thanks.

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