I don't agree that you had to read Halley's writing to understand his paintings. The writing helped to clarify the most straightforward interpretations: that the design of the paintings referred to architecture and graphic notation (ie flow charts); that the facture was pumped up ("hyperrealized," in Halleyspeak) compared to '60s painting (50 coats of paint where three would suffice, sharper edges, more optical vibration), and that there was an element of existential bathos in the form of the Roll-a-Tex granules added to the paint, which anyone (not just Halley) could relate to motel ceilings. Whether these are advances is surely a moot question, since after the excesses of Modernism we no longer look so hard for progress in art, but they are definitely differences, which Schjeldahl should be worldly enough to acknowledge. The injection of the social and the demotic into abstract painting inspired dozens of other good artists, many of whom emerged in the '90s. The exhibition Steve Di Benedetto and I were in, "post-hypnotic," collected a number of these practitioners (Jim Isermann, David Clarkson, Michelle Grabner, Sarah Morris, Tad Griffin) and I would also include Jeff Elrod, James Hyde, Carl Fudge, Pamela Fraser, Ruth Root, Monica Pierce, Nina Bovasso (the latter four rejecting heroic scale and themes in favor of the intimate and quirky). "post-hypnotic" traveled to about ten venues but as close as it got to New York was Boston, and as yet no local critic (that I'm aware of) has connected most of these artists.

As for me, I consider my work very much in this vein of coded abstract art, believing that the viewer can crack the code without the aid of a specific French theory. Where I part company with the rest is (a) I also do portraits and stupid cartoons, and (b) I'm not really committed to painting as a vehicle. Right now I'm more interested in mixing the old tropes with new ones engendered by recent art-making technology. (And unlike some "computer artists," I'm off the hook for pretensions to progress because the programs I use are dated, or strictly for amateurs.) Thanks for asking.
- tom moody 5-31-2002 10:11 pm

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