Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ron Johnson

Ron Johnson is showing at Reynolds Gallery. Sorry about these photos, the color is much brighter in reality. Opening the door and seeing those two paintings on a bright day... they were very crayola.

These pieces are done on two or three sheets of layered mylar... the pooled paint could be on the front surface, on the reverse, or somewhere in the middle... also the drawing. They are hung a little bit off the wall, and the color I most noticed at the reception was the reflected oranges, purples, and yellows on the white walls behind the pieces. Kind of like light through stained glass.

The second visit was the one where I was struck by the bright crayola colors, and the scribbliness. These seem so refined, and then so child-like. They are also sort of creepy.. I start to see ghosts.. I don't know why but I start to think "cemetary", maybe because of all the orange and yellow Halloween stuff I'm seeing at the stores now. I've had this reaction before to Ron's colors though, thinking they were vampirish, from the batcave, and that was in a February.

The one above is like an orange skull.

Here is a ghost, rising up from a misty cemetary. Boo!

Ron Johnson
Upstairs are some pieces on panels. The one on the right is nice.

Like a body, but not a fresh one. A few days later... grey and leaking.

Ron Johnson
The strips that Ron uses... usually colored on one or both sides.

Thumbs-Up from Eric Sall! Really!


Anonymous said...

I could just be projecting my own obsessions, but it seems to me that the issue here is between "motivation" as a modernist project and painters' joyful emancipation from it. I use motivation in the sense used by Yve-Alain Bois in his work on Ellsworth Kelly and others, in which he describes the need to make painting somehow responsive to its physical constituents. Objective, reliable, finite, rather than frivolous and subjective. Think Stella's Black Paintings.

So Ron's paintings seem to be made with a dim memory of that project, as if filtered through digital projections in art history classes, but without a sense of the progammatic: no sense of obligation to be true to anything, but rather a joy in the evocative possibilities of transparency, faux-automatic markmaking, and uncontrolled flow of paint.

Almost uncontrolled flow of paint, because it is conditioned, or, yes, motivated by those perpendicular pieces of canvas, which are in turn literalizations of the material of painting (canvas) shredded and turned on its ear. And the pencil marks on the mylar that imitate the canvas loops are an art-historically backwards de-literaliztion of the project of modernism: they are contrarian within that framework because a good modernist is supposed to go from virtual to real, but Ron goes the other way. Of course, virtuality is apt today.
Ron plays, within a well-defined vocabulary.

And we are left with the question: Do we like them?

Anonymous said...

i dont know why my login name on my work computer showed up in my above post.

Anonymous said...

yes.. i like them! most of them.. i don't like his work with the horizontal bands, not pictured here.