In the future, plants, water and rocks will all become disco shades of cyan, day-glow yellow and hot pink. We’ll wear these colors all together, all the time, and forget black and white. At least, that would be the case if the artwork of Richard Lytle, painter and teacher, was any sign of the planet’s evolutionary path.
Though Lytle’s current exhibit at the Gallery at the Whitney is entitled “That Commitment to Discovery,” the artwork itself seems to indicate few clear links to evolution or scientific exploration. Lytle’s large oil paintings and watercolors feature close-ups of flowers such as orchids and lilies. The blossoms are rendered with a clear attention to clean lines and forms, a style that perhaps marks close scientific observation. The apparent connection to scientific discovery, however, ends there.
The artist’s interest in color and fantasy dominates the exhibition. Though the flowers are painted with detail, and at close range, they are often accompanied by the vague indication of a body of water, or the hint of mountainous forms in the distance. Livid green, magenta and bright orange are juxtaposed, almost banishing subtler, neutral shades. The combined effect can seem like a dream, sci-fi or just kitsch.
The exhibition also features charcoal drawings, depicting trees and other plants, as well as a few nudes. Without the vivid colors, Lytle’s mastery of line, and his experimental composition, grows more apparent, particularly in his nudes.
“That Commitment to Discovery” is on display at the Gallery at the Whitney until June 15.