Traversing physical and metaphysical experiences of luminosity, Recent Paintings at Pace is organized around a central pavilion-like room, in which the artist has installed a series of monumental canvases that incorporate fields of primary color. A new series of Corse’s Inner Band paintings populate an ambulatory space surrounding the pavilion. In tandem with her first-floor exhibition, we will exhibit a new monumental outdoor painting on steel, which Corse has installed on the gallery’s sixth-floor outdoor terrace, in addition to a wireless lightbox work powered by a high-frequency Tesla coil from the 1960s. This is the first solo presentation of Corse’s work in New York since her survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2018.
Since the 1960s, Corse’s pioneering approach to painting has probed the medium’s capacity to materialize and radiate light from within. Corse often emphasizes that her paintings are “not on the wall,” but instead suspended in a perceptual relationship between viewer and canvas. For Corse, the essence of painting is therefore not about paint, but rather about underlying structures of visual experience as they unfold in space and time. Beginning in the late 1960s, Corse has pursued this interest in perception by incorporating glass microspheres on the surfaces of her paintings. An industrial material used to enhance the visibility of road markings, the microspheres capture and refract light depending on the viewer’s position relative to the work’s optically rich surface. As one moves laterally through space, lighting conditions shift, revealing or obscuring elements of the composition. In Corse’s paintings, reality flashes into visibility at the moment in which the viewer transcends what she calls “finite thought,” instead inhabiting an experience that is intuitive, affective, and connects to the infinite in us.
The central room includes three large-scale canvases that isolate fields of primary color—red, yellow, and blue—between thick vertical bands of black and white along with a fourth black and white painting. Corse worked for most of her career in tonal variations of white and black, but in the 1990s began to respond to the way the glass microspheres in her White Light and Black Light paintings acted as tiny prisms, breaking down light into its constituent parts. Building upon her decades-long interest in the nature of refraction, Corse’s recent engagement with primary colors suggests how chromatic effects have always been subtly present in her ostensibly monochrome paintings. Her new works recapitulate the physical process of refraction, isolating color in its purest form, freeing it from any burden of representation and endowing it with a luminous material presence.