These paintings were executed while Mallary was living and teaching at the University of New Mexico. Regarding them, he wrote (exhibition notes, the University Gallery, 1956):
“I have used some unorthodox methods of applying the paint onto the panels, including baster, oiling cans, and hypo needles. This is no mere trickery or sensationalism—with these tools various qualities of line are obtained which cannot be ‘faked’ with a conventional brush technique. Nor are these lines the same as those resulting from a ‘drip’ technique. When the color is ‘shot’ from the baster or hypo needle, its special quality is explosive and suggests some type of instantaneous natural event (the painting, Descent, #23)… they relate back to nature via the new iconography of micro and macrophotography, high-speed photography, the electron microscope, the cloud chamber, X-Ray photography, etc.” In reference to the comment on the recurrent “blackness” of much of his work, he wrote “What content? I am inclined to believe that my recurrent ‘black’ paintings must reflect a kind of existentialist viewpoint in the philosophical sense.” (from a statement for the catalog of the traveling exhibition “Forty California Painters,” 1956).