REVIEW: MANMADE in Modern Dallas.net
April 1, 2016 - Todd Camplin
Holly Johnson Gallery celebrates their 11th anniversary with a vibrantly colorful abstract painting show. Seven artists will display examples of what is exciting about contemporary abstract paintings. These are not undead paintings that pretend to be edgy. No, artists David Aylsworth, Todd Chiliton, Joseph Cohen, Geoff Hippenstiel, Warren Isensee, Dion Johnson, and James Lumsden all bring to life abstract painting with their own brand of expert rendering.
I am familiar with many of these artists from other shows I have attended, however, I haven’t seen Warren Isensee’s and Todd Chiliton’s playful geometric paintings. Isensee creates loose forms that feel humorous and whimsical. He allows the geometry to look less formal, yet fit together into a complete unit. Chiliton’s paintings remind me of textiles. His paint is thick and brushed on to give an impression he was attempting to simulate fuzzy threads. The geometric shapes also imply textile patterns. Both artists help continue the conversation with painting geometric forms, without plainly copying the past minimal traditions. David Aylsworth plays in similar motif as Isensee and Chiliton, but I have seen him both at Holly Johnson Gallery and in Houston. Still, it is quite a treat to see his muted colors and his arrangement of shapes on canvas.
Years ago, Dion Johnson showed in Dallas with some incredible paintings which I had to write about. I am so happy to see more of his work. The movement and rhythm of his paintings captivated me. I walked by each piece, first fast, then slow to follow each curve and feel each wave he painted. Lastly, there are the ghostly paintings of James Lumsden. I had the fortune to visit the gallery when crates of Lumsden’s work were delivered. I was able to examine the waves of paint and the dichotomy between the two halves of his paintings. Lumsden splits his composition which gives an illusion of a horizon line. If you look closely, you can see that he layers his work using gloss media and acrylic paint. Thin layer after thin layer is built up to slowly create an image. I need to take a flight to Edinburgh, Scotland, because I really would love to see him make one of these paintings.
Joseph Cohen and Geoff Hippenstiel create thick layered paintings that remind me of frosting on a cake. Cohen builds up the paint and it drips off the surface in a way that almost moves his painting into the realm of a relief sculpture rather than a painting. A couple of years back, Hippenstiel’s solo show at Holly Johnson Gallery nearly knocked me down with his mixture of abstract work and somewhat representational paintings. I was unsure how I was going to feel about his work, but his paintings had such a presence, I was won over when I came to his show. Just goes to show, you can’t judge a painting by a postcard or email image, you have to go see it.
In the past few months, great contemporary abstract paintings have been celebrated by Dallas galleries. Holly Johnson Gallery continues this celebration in a show titled Manmade which will open Saturday, April 2nd from 5 to 8pm and continue through June 11th.Download Article (PDF)
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