Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Adaptation Syndrome III - Ron Johnson Plus

My other favorite work in the Adaptation Syndrome show is by Ron Johnson. Ron is showing three paintings, one of which I really like a lot and one which seems to be a failure - but an interesting failure because it seems he struggled with it, and that it might not be a failure at all but the beginnings of some change or possibly a new direction.

Unfortunately I can find no Ron Johnson images on the web to share, so I'll try to describe what his work usually looks like. He works flat on small panels or stretched silk, onto which he pours two to four pools of solid color that have a strange oil-slick quality. He probably waits a while before pouring another color because the slithery pools overlap but the colors don't mix. Weird colors and color combos, not exactly seventies, not exactly vampirish, somewhere in between. Did the batcave have a kitchen? All of Ron's work also includes a thin cloth strip, no wider or longer than a shoelace, which I imagine he holds by one end as he lowers it onto the canvas and it curlicues around like the end of a colonial signature. The curlicued strips catch and hold pools of paint and can also be two-toned, hiding a color themselves that can only be seen from the side or upon close inspection.

Do you know how you are supposed to hold the brush when practicing Kanji? Vertical to the paper and with your fingers holding near the top or at the tip. So Ron's lowering of this canvas strip onto his painting is sort of like writing Kanji, with the "brush" lowering itself into the work. The piece that sticks out is called Elemental Return and is unusual because it both references landscape and Ron appears to have had second and third thoughts about including his signature strip. It was obviously laid down once and ripped up after the paint had dried, then it was laid down again in a different spot. Is he starting to get sick of feeling he has to add this strip everytime? Is he tired of abstraction? It is very interesting to note that Johnson studied under James Hyde - perhaps the original inspiration for the strips - and that Hyde's latest show at Brent Sikkema flirted with representation and landscape.

Margaret Evangeline and Rosemarie Fiore are also both included in this show, and so for the first time I consider the relationship between Evangeline's bullet riddled sheets of painted aluminum and previous works of Fiore's I've seen at ADA. Fiore has exhibited fireworks drawings - fireworks she's lit on paper - and gun rubbing mandalas.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

rosemarie fiore needs to decide on what is imporatant to her. She is not postmodern. She is indecisive.