Ryman’s delicate drawings are tentative attempts to settle in a lasting frame of reference. With the methodical zeal of a search and rescue pilot, the artist scored sheets of paper, coffee filters, and aluminium panels with girds and orientation marks in the hope that he may eventually understand the territory. Some of these nearly monochromatic frames, each barely a square foot, are maps of the forest, others of fog, others still of time past.
But when Ryman’s gestures grow in confidence, switching from pencil to black marker ink, for example, they inadvertently reveal their mounting desperation. The artist’s signature becomes a distress call and not even the horizon line helps the escape.