Wendy White
by Katie Zoni

From the exhibition catalog Painting is Not Doomed to Repeat Itself, curated by John Yau, Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York, NY (2015)

Wendy White's work is most preoccupied with the lifespan of seemingly dissonant places, people, and things, all of which are bound by the same sense of impermanence and eventual decay. She considers a deli in Chinatown--here today and gone tomorrow--and the consequent graffiti on the building's surface. Then there is her comparison between the life of an athlete and the life of the artist, part of White's astute observation about the hard-won and often short professional lives of people in physically and emotionally taxing careers. 

Many of White's recent paintings begin with color photographs, which she drains of their color, prints on a large scale, and then eventually paints over. The characteristic "fogginess" of her paintings calls to mind the white residue on the window of a recently closed shop; a "For Rent" sign would not feel entirely out of place. This furthers White's pointed remark on the ephemerality of things; when she paints a soapy wash over a well-known photograph of a famous athlete, she seems to be saying that this newsworthy moment and the physical vitality of this athlete will, too, eventually "go out of business."

White's body of work is also a commentary on the limitations of traditional paintings on canvas. Not only does she use a variety of non-paint materials--custom fabricated Plexiglas and PVC frames, rugs, and wood--she also undermines traditional modes of display. Some works sit on the floor and lean against the wall. They are placed upon their own hand-painted rugs, which speak as much to domesticity, offering some kind of comforting invitation into their space, as they do to White's cool rebellion. Her mirror paintings assign the actual mirrored surface to the painting's frame, in direct reaction against the way that we are used to looking at things. Their frames often feature the bulbous evidence of a drip at their corner, like the swollen bases of old glass windows, signaling, again, an erosion and a sense of impermanence.