Ross Bleckner’s Count No Count (1989) is one of a series of memento mori paintings that the artist began to make in the mid-1980s. The suggestion of flickering lights in the work serves as a reminder to viewers of their own mortality, and for Bleckner — an AIDS activist — of the many lives lost to the AIDS epidemic. Bleckner engages both the formal and metaphorical qualities of light, yielding a work that shifts between abstraction and symbolic representation. To achieve the appearance of light within a darkened void, the artist blended wax into oil paint, creating a luminous surface that conveys what he describes as “this almost continual light that comes from inside.”
Photographed as Part of Fast Forward: Painting From The 1980s at the Whitney Museum of Americana Art, on Exhibit Through May 14th, 2017.