The sexual ambiguity of the person at the BBQ grill in Henry Taylor’s monumental painting The 4th, is vexing. The stance, heft, clothes and a traditional penchant to ascribe men to the BBQ, all point to a male figure but on closer inspection the pearl necklace, long painted nails and dainty fingers suggest that a woman sneaked into the picture. Taylor’s towering diptych, part of the brilliant new Whitney Biennale, represents a tour de force in new American painting. The lower half of the canvas is almost entirely occupied by the crowded surface of a round BBQ grill where meat and coals blend into each other in an indeterminate disarray. The top of the work is dominated by the BBQ master in a white generic t-shirt; a barren prison yard looms in the background. An outline of a child’s head in profile finishes the symmetry of the composition. Taylor’s grasp of color is superb – the ternary horizontal color bands owe emotive homage to Rothko and Barnett Newman – his choice of pine green against the white of the t-shirt underlines its crispness. Taylor usually paints his friends and acquaintances yet the painting’s close proximity to Taylor’s other masterpiece The Times Thay Aint A Changing, suggest a ‘what if’ to the senseless murder of Philando Castile. Likewise, the placement of the work high on a wall in a large room commends a divine reverence – an honour that the painting and artist most certainly deserve. At the Whitney through June 11.