December 1, 1971
These lines form a postscript to my more extensive remarks concerning Robert Duran’s work, made earlier this year, (Artforum, March, 1971.)
The problem which Duran continues to attack in his paintings (or is plagued by) is one of figure and ground. Since the application of thin color in near-arbitrary displacement tended to render the figure-ground relationship ambiguous, Duran has emphasized several pictorial devices of great subtlety to confirm frontality and planarity. Allowing the initial level of color to dry he isolates quasi-floral configurations in the center of the canvas, identifying in this way the central splotches as shape, thereby centristically anchoring the surface. Superficially the new works bear a resemblance to Warhol’s flower prints, but as I suggested previously, Duran is prompted by an awareness of primitive sources expressed as decoration. This relationship continues in the bandanna-like framing elements of the square which, while assisting in the expression of the diaphanous overlaps as surface, also reinforces the idea of the decorative and the primitive textile.