Yesterday some friends and I explored some art galleries in Atlanta, discovered some new artists and some interesting ways that they have distinguished themselves in the contemporary art world.
While I have seen many artists who work with found objects and use a description or title to create a deeper meaning, I feel that Lonnie Hollis is one the the most successful that I have encountered. As an artist who has worked hard over the years honing skills as a painter, I often view this approach to work as a cop-out. Hollis's work struck a cord though as being particularly powerful. The descriptions he uses of personal experiences and their impact on himself, and our world as a whole successfully tied together assemblages of found items with the stories he has woven together almost as artfully as the work itself. While Hollis's work really doesn't relate to my own at this point, it has helped me to better understand the power of how the written work can help an artist make a clear, unoffensive statement.
Another artist that intrigued me for a very different reason was John Folsom. The first thing that struck me about Folsom's work was his use of a grid in his large landscape paintings. The lines of the grid fade in and out, sometimes more pronounced than others. The work itself is created on a large panel, but the obscurity of the grid lines intrigues and even teases the viewer to come closer to investigate the picture plane. Upon closer inspection I realized that not only is the grid adhered to the surface of the work, but the work itself is not what it appears from a a distance. At first glance Folsom's work looks like large oil paintings. The truth is that Folsom prints large photos in a tile format that he pieces together on a large panel board. Once the pieces have been reassembled. Folsom paints on them to enhance the image. Sometimes he uses bright colors to emphasize particular areas, other times he uses subtle colors to create atmospheric affects. Once the work is compete he covers it with a coating of wax medium.
The atmosphere and perspective of Folsom's finished work truly draws the viewer in, and his techniques are perplexing. While I enjoy the finished look and feel of his work, I do't think the painter in me would ever find satisfaction simply painting on top of the photographic images. However, there is something about the use of the grid that really just intrigues me. While much of my recent work employs a grid in one way or another as a surface for my paintings, I must admit that the look and feel of Folsom's work tempts me to explore the possibility of painting a faux grid over the surface of a painting upon completion. This would really almost be reversing the process used by Folsom to create what I imagine to be a similar affect. Definitely a process worth considering further.