this is tough. the first review i ever wrote, in high school, was of jack whitten's retrospective at @mcasandiego in 2014.
i was staring at the layers in "black monolith, v full circle: for leroi jones aka amiri baraka" (2014), scribbling down descriptions i thought made sense -- when he asked me what i was writing. he then told me how he made the painting, and how important it was to keep moving and keep trying. abstract expressionism overlooked him for years, but jack whitten didn't care. when he made his works with the developer in the 1970s, dragging and snagging paint across canvas until they left beautiful messes, he told me "i said to myself, now take that, motherfuckers!" when i sent the review to him after, he said "the only problem is that you've set the bar very high for yourself -- but go for it!" it made me want to write more.
i'll remember jack as a natty dresser, excellent swearer and magician of a painter -- he seemed to be able to freeze, melt and sculpt paint in mid-air, all while imbuing it with a poignant soulfulness. rest in power, jack. ✨