Lena Henke, 32, grew up on a horse farm in rural Germany and had planned to be a plant breeder, but at 19, after completing the required education, she changed her mind. “I was like, ‘It can’t be like this. I need to do something else!’” she told me in her Williamsburg studio. “I sold the horse, I bought a car.”
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If painting is a way of storing time, as the German painter Jutta Koether argued in a recent lecture—artists building up marks over various durations to form a single image—then Whitney Claflin’s paintings show that process going haywire, shedding linearity and taking on a life of its own. Almost uniformly pared down from those in her past shows, these works often have just a few lines and wisps of paint on solid white grounds and seem to be in the midst of melting down or swirling into new compositions.
When the door closed behind me at the Real Fine Arts gallery in Greenpoint last Sunday afternoon, it was completely pitch black—so black, in fact, that it was impossible to see my hand when I waved it in front of my face, much less the two gentlemen I had seen when one opened the door to let me inside. Which was a little unsettling.