Driss Ouadahi's German Grid Paintings in New York
Driss Oudahi's show in New York from late last year is covered in this Modern Painters' review:
Melding abstraction with landscape, the Algerian-born painter Driss Ouadahi presents a vision that is distinctive, although potentially repetitive. The works in "Densité," most dating from 2010, portray obscured urban landscapes overlaid with fairly rigid grid patterns, as if the world had been covered by colorful scaffolding. When Ouadahi succeeds, the result is an exciting mix of figuration and insistent patterning. When he fails, the grid conceit seems simply a trick to complicate an otherwise humdrum view of our built surroundings.
The artist experiments with color schemes throughout. In "Hot Night," it’s variations on crimson; "Parking" uses pastels, lavenders, tans; "Vis à vis" deploys rectangular slabs of yellow, green, and blue. The overlaying lattice is not always complete; occasionally a line will disappear or dissolve without warning. The tension between its geometric precision and the wilds of what it covers up is often thrilling, especially in the larger works, like "Désenclavement." But it’s easy to tire of the series, which shares a spirit and tone — of kinetic architecture or of blueprints come to life — with Julie Mehretu’s work.
Driss Ouadahi's Désenclavement, 2010
Luckily it’s not all grids and cities. Two paintings, "Fence IV" and "Fence V," take as their subject a simple chain-link barrier. Up close, the line work is simple, almost naive. Step back a bit, and a warped pattern emerges. In "Traces" and "Red on White," Ouadahi depicts subterranean spaces bleached with artificial light — subways, evidently, although they could equally well be locker rooms or slaughterhouses. The pattern of the wall tiling is the focus here, interiors transformed into mathematical abstractions marred with the occasional slash of blood-red paint. Interestingly, they bear a strong resemblance to new, more monochromatic work by the young artist Danny Jauregui, who currently has a show at Leslie Tonkonow Gallery, a dozen or so blocks south.