In his groundbreaking 1963 study of color theory, Interaction of Color, Josef Albers provided not only a pioneering way of understanding how we see color, but how artists use color in their work. For so many of us, looking at color elicits altogether different feelings and moods, depending on our personal relationships with particular hues. Red makes me feel anxious, while it might remind you of a wonderful holiday. Albers’s opening line in Interaction of Color says it all: “The fact that one and the same color can perform many different roles is well known and consciously applied.” Color perception is a broad, personal, visual experience.  Black and white is about contrasts, and the two are so uniquely well-partnered. Despite what the combination lacks, it packs an emotional punch.

I went back to my introduction for the Juxtapoz Black and White book from a few years back because it felt like a good starting point into Kara Joslyn’s work and her new solo show, This Is Hardcore, on view at Perrotin in NYC through April 16, 2022. Black and white art makes you inject more of your observational ideas. You have to be an active viewer. Joslyn gets a ton of color without using color. The coldness of the automotive paint on canvas is contrasting with a richness of story; what the gallery notes as “Jolsyn’s paintings echo a certain narrative sensibility captured by the writer Dodie Bellamy: ‘in the contest of ‘imagination versus reality,’ I am drawn to ‘versus.’”

What really stands out is the surrealist influence on these works. Gotta Get Away From Me stands out as minimal, futuristic and almost digital mindtrip. It appears as if you could almost walk into the work and transform yourself into your own Second Life scenario. The works are like dreams and the black and white boldness creates an illusion of something almost of not the human hand.  “I like to think of painting as the trick — the lie that tells the truth,” Joslyn says, and in This Is Hardcore, like the Pulp song lyrics it takes it’s name from, “You can’t be a spectator, oh no You got to take these dreams and make them whole.” —Evan Pricco