At a time when there is a dearth of originality in abstract painting, Fiona Rae offers a reason for optimism. Yet it's possible she's painting herself into a comer. With this show, the young British abstract artist who has garnered so much attention appears to have gone into production mode. While the paintings are still dramatic and full of bravado, they lack the idiosyncratic energy that drove her earlier work. Rae's vocabulary has become smaller, and the canvases themselves are disturbingly alike.
The elements are black-and-white, horizontal, Richter-esque scraped stripes; ribbons of variegated black-and-white brush strokes; and crinkly patterned patches, still black and white, that look as though they were applied with crumpled paper. A number of colorful, flatly painted disks-a circle within a circle within a circle, like different size phonograph records-peek in and out like moons through clouds. The effect is one of layers and an allover patterning that appears tight and controlled rather than diffuse and spontaneous.
One painting, "Green Shade," stood out because of the richness of its color. But on the whole, while sophisticated, these new works have the air of being designed rather than issuing from a love of paint.