Jan Dibbets @Gladstone

JTF (just the facts): A total of 8 large scale color works from the Colorstudies series, framed in brown wood and unmatted, and hung against white walls in the main gallery space, the back gallery, the project room, and the hallway. All of the works are printed on Fujicolor Crytsal archive DPII paper and mounted on Dibond. There are 6 single images and 2 diptychs on display; the single images range in sixe from 88×51 to 100×50 (or reverse), while the diptychs are made up of two vertical 100×50 panels hung together. All of the works come in editions of 2+1AP, and were made in 2012 from negatives taken in 1976. (Installation shots below.)

Comments/Context: The photographic possibilities to be found in the sleek, reflective surface of polished car hoods have long been a point of interest for the Dutch photographer Jan Dibbets. Starting with closely cropped images made in the early days of Conceptual Photography (in the mid 1970s) and reprised a few years ago in a recast portfolio (seen at the Armory in 2010, here), this new show continues his investigation of found abstraction and immersive gestural color.

Dibbets’ new works begin with just three negatives from 1976, which have been further reconsidered using the power of contemporary software tools. Light bounces and flares off the painted surfaces, creating dappled white highlights that feel like expansive expressionist brushstrokes. Edges and curves in the steel create linear stripes and ephemeral areas of shadow, and bright primary color is poured in, the same image vaulting from fire engine red to deep blue and back again to silver grey and monochrome black. Tiny flecks of mud are reminiscent of glowing embers against a night sky and a single vertical line in neon green recalls a Barnett Newman zip.

In comparison to the playful reflected chaos of Ray Metzker’s Autowackies, Dibbets’ images are more formally pared down and fully abstract. The car hood has become a vehicle (no pun intended) for an examination of the nuances of painterly color, the scale expanded to such a degree that the visual experience is enveloping. By channeling the whorls and slashes of reflected light captured by his camera into tight iterative compositions, Dibbets has further blurred the lines between painting and photography.

Collector’s POV: The works in this show are priced as follows. The single prints are €100000 each, while the diptychs are €175000 each. Dibbets’ work has not been widely available in the secondary markets in recent years. While a couple of lots have come up for sale in that time, no meaningful pricing pattern can be extrapolated from so few data points. As such, gallery retail remains the best option for those collectors interested in following up.

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JTF (just the facts): Published in 2020 by Vexer Verlag (here). Hardcover (33.3×24.5 cm), 264 pages, with 175 color reproductions. (Includes a short text by Trmasan Bruialesi. (Cover and spread ... Read on.

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