23 May- 22 July 2005. 15.00-19.00. Sun and holidays closed.
A great blue mist of a museum-size canvas glitters in the middle of the gallery. It attracts small square satellite canvases around it in constellations of twos and threes, with swaths of yellows, greens and blues brushed across them. And there are some horizontal tries of abstraction with marks splashing sideways which are quiet new.
It appears that all these breath-taking surfaces are about liquidity. If you wish to paint something like the fall of water or the light of the moon you let the paint speak for itself. There are cascades and curtains of paint embellished by little splinters and splatters, like raindrops after thunder, like glinting mosaic grains, stringy ropes of drips, sunlit puddles and tears.
Coming from the funky clutter of a dusty New York loft, the big Blue Moon canvas is as grand as the noble space of the vaulted baroque palace it is set in now. Steir has been at it for several decades, perfecting her work towards pure abstraction. Child of the New York school, her thinking is big and loose. It is about spontaneity, fastness, about the matter she employs.
In her maturity, Steir handles abstraction as a master. She has reached marvellous control over her chosen discipline. Today, when the young are lost in the jungles of technological art, her path into the timeless painterly way is reassuring. However when all the bets are on a show of spontaneous freedom, you cannot allow your dexterity and proficiency to dominate. Great and generous as these works are, there is a hint of mannerism.
However we are presented with a gift: the big wide rainy mural and the new sideways blurs and lashes leave you with splendid after-images, a bloom of blue, or pink and black glistening fresh and runny in your mind. Edith Schloss.