Nancy Haynes: This Painting Oil on Linen was at the Regina Rex Gallery, New York, 7 April – 14 May 2017
These Paintings Oil on Linen
I don’t think I’d go quite so far as to describe Haynes’ practice as “a form of prayer,” but I can see why Ken Johnston would say that. She has always made paintings that are impressive because of the way they’re painted, but in her newest work she has realized more intensely the kind of depth and movement she has worked with for a long time. The surface is more delicate, its relation—more exactly, its active non-relationship—to its support more subtle.
Each of the paintings in this group is made of a generally horizontal movement, which takes place in several stages but proceeds in all cases from lighter on the left to darker on the right. At the top and bottom things happen that qualify this movement, altering the way we see space and movement by changing the color and the surface. Where most of the painting is made of layers of thin paint applied with a foam rubber brush, Haynes uses a tiny watercolor brush to make the marks or surface interruptions at the top and bottom. Nothing moves quickly but some affects seem to emerge, or appear, suddenly.
In 1988 I said in connection with one of her paintings that dark spaces seem closer to one than light ones and that therefore it was (is) very hard to judge the relative space between the dark and the not so dark, because it’s a relationship between degrees of envelopment.  There is no distance of straightforwardly describable sort, it would be like saying which part of the sky was closer to one than another. It starts at your eye—where the outside most obviously enters your inside—and goes on from there. We look into it, and Haynes talked about “disappearing into the painting” when we met to talk about these new paintings. What disappears into it? The viewer I think, oneself. Its interiority takes you over not when you’re not looking but when you are.