“Stephen Rosenthal’s paintings are so unusual that one is almost inevitably led to wonder about how they come into being. How and why does this or that maculation occur at just this or that place on the rectangle of the canvas, or in the space of the painting––keeping in mind that the canvas and the painting are not exactly the same thing? [. . .] Rosenthal’s process involves both adding and taking away, which means using both paint and solvents. The taking away, the via di levare that Michelangelo considered the sculptor’s method, is more important, more determinative of the final result.” ––Barry Schwabsky
Stephen Rosenthal, already active in New York in the latter half of the 1960s, delved from the outset into an investigation of reduction in painting via works on unstretched canvas, examined in successive cycles. This publication focuses on the latest group of paintings, which Rosenthal showed in Constellations, his first exhibition at P420 gallery in Bologna. The artist’s practice unfolds, as Davide Ferri writes, with many leaps and certain constants: the drawn canvas; the irreducible coexistence of two distinct planes of surface and support, sign and background; and planes and other elements that contaminate and activate one another.