Conceptual and visual artist David Reed is an abstract painter, installation sculptor, and video artist whose artworks challenge the viewer by being at once attractive and repulsive— “eerie conundrums” in his words.
When Reed came to New York from Southern California in the 1960s, he entered an art scene skeptical about painting’s ability to be progressive. The young artist sympathized with the humanist, even metaphysical impulse in the work of painters such as his teachers Philip Guston and Milton Resnick, even as he admired the deadpan materiality of contemporaneous conceptual experiments in sculpture and film. Seeking to make paintings that were as direct as a poured steel sculpture, between 1974 and 1975 he prepared tall vertical canvases, either as single panels or as several panels bolted together; their height was determined by the door to his studio, their width by the limits of his own reach. Working wet into wet, Reed painted primarily black or red strokes from left to right, top to bottom, and sometimes diagonally, quickly filling the canvas.