Yellow Squares, or The Opposite of War

Thu May 23 - 10:00am to Fri May 31 - 5:00pm

“Why paint a square? Because the square is simple and straightforward and honest. The square doesn’t deceive us - the square simply is what it is, and that’s encouraging.” - Matthew Boulay


The painted square occupies a special place in the history of contemporary art:

In 1915, the Russian avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich unveiled a radically abstract painting of a black square

on a white canvas. His “Black Square” was a dramatic break from hundreds of years of representational painting and historians still refer to it as the first abstract painting. Malevich himself boasted that it represented the“zero point of painting.”


Forty years later, the New York-based artist Ad Reinhardt presented his black squares as the ultimate achievement in abstract painting; colorless, bearing no reference to anything outside of themselves. And then the minimalist Robert Ryman painted a series of “white squares” which he described as not being about anything other than what’s right before your eyes. “It’s about process and materials.”


More recently, the Iranian-born artist Shirazeh Houshiary created Veil, a black square that she presents as a protest against knowing, a kind of commentary on how difficult it is for us to perceive the nature of reality.


And so my yellow squares? I came home from the war in Iraq confused and angry. I came home from the war in Iraq confused and angry. I came home – that’s just it: I came home. A square is just a square and yet my yellow squares are more than that. My yellow squares are an expression of gratitude, a celebration of the life I get to live.


Salem Art Association exhibitions are always free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday from 10:00 AM-5:00 PM, and Saturday-Sunday from 12:00-5:00 PM.

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