Like many aesthetically minded New Yorkers, Jules Olitski would often visit the Frick Museum in order to pay his respects to Rembrandt van Rijn´s The Polish Rider (1655). In 1985 Olitski wrote of this work, "What a painting! It´s all undulating surface, seamless and impenetrable; a good Rembrandt has no holes." The paintings in the current show at the Meredith Long Gallery are just such paintings.
While the stained and sprayed works of the 1960s were valued for the "opticality´ of their weightless misty color, the thickly brushed and smeared surfaces of the canvases he made in the 1970s and 1980s have seemed like a corrective project — a return to process and to the physicality of his materials. Their somber colors and dense texture seem to press us, the viewers, out as much as invite us in. They obtain an almost mineral hardness even as their translucent shine continues to be receptive to light. Seen in the context of this small show, they no longer appear as a reversal of his optical stance, but rather as part of a consistent struggle to reimagine the surface of the canvas as a space of vibrant, conspicuous fullness.