A few years ago, Miller inverted—or forked—his practice, venturing into a kind of self-testing. Instead of constructing complicated multivalent sentences, phrases that could flip or eat their own tails, he began making paintings that involved only a single word: mostly outwardly positive (Ace, Up, Yes, Luv) though occasionally less so (If, Hell). These seemingly test the weight, spaciousness and potential for complication and outright impact of small handfuls of letters—handfuls that, nevertheless, open onto vast connotative acreages. Double meanings, meanwhile, aren’t excluded: words like Ace—retro northern slang, tangy with time and place...could mean several things but are inflected here by Miller’s other titles. How few letters can you use and still pull off a triple-word score, how far can the deeply familiar be wrenched into openness? Even the most commonplace words, these paintings assert, constitute epistemologically shaky ground if they’re framed as starting points for novel-length narratives, or, if they’re shown together, generate endlessly ramified readings.

Martin Herbert, excerpted from In Shadows I Boogie: Harland Miller