Saturday, October 16, 2010

Slash and Learn: A Painter's Brush with Life

Slash and Learn: A Painter’s Brush with Life

By Tom Wachunas

Like the journeys of many painters, Chris Triner’s has been one well-traveled by others before him who have explored territories best called representational abstraction. In his statement accompanying his paintings currently on view at The Little Art Gallery in North Canton, Triner speaks of his passion for nature, architecture, and simplicity. And as demonstrated in some of the works here, he has developed a unique hybrid visual language that articulates that passion with impressive success. Others just as clearly show the challenges that painters in this mode can often encounter when struggling with organizing their pictorial grammar and syntax, so to speak

As their were no dates posted with any of the works (yes, I agree with fellow artist- blogger, Judi Krew, that such omissions are often vexing), I needed to find out from Triner when some of his pieces were done, so as to better grasp his evolution. My desire for such was prompted by a guess as to what might be his newest work here. As it turned out, my intuition proved accurate. I’ll get to that momentarily.

Meanwhile, perhaps the least successful stop along the painter’s journey is his mixed media collage from 2003, “Frank Lloyd Wright Would Have A Fit!” Yes indeed. This is largely an exercise in texture and picture-plane fragmentation which veered disastrously off course, whatever that may have been. Similarly, “Nude Figure in Repose,” an oil from 2004, seems to be having an identity crisis. Is it a tribute to Cubist stylings and space, or a ‘pixelated’ fragmenting of the figure? While there’s nothing problematic about either formal approach per se, the blending of the two here has an undermining effect. Some of the over-worked color passages muddy-up what might be an otherwise remarkable ‘pose.’ Another mixed media work (I forgot to ask about the date) however, “Structured Faith,” with its charmingly configured architectural theme integrated with abstract space, is a considerably more satisfying visual experience.

From 2007 or thereabout, “Summer’s Last Stand” is a spectacularly sumptuous oil diptych that has all the expressionistic delicacy and verve of a very fine Romantic symphony. Triner’s blending technique is the picture of music itself, punctuated with brushy, lush accent notes that rise from subtle harmonies. That same subtlety seems to have evolved into the ‘backgrounds’ and color fields in various architectural landscapes around the same time. “Pixelated Valley” and “Olive Field,” for example, are more overtly structured, and their colors more intense, with shapes organized into rhythms. These still possess a succinctly lyrical sensibility, which is in turn very much present in the 2009 “Rapid Sky Movement” and the 2010 “City Rhythms.” In the former, the red mid-section of the painting – a stormy field of visceral, linear strokes like so many thin slash marks - practically pops off the canvas.

All of the aforementioned – undulating skies and grounds of blended colors, thin linear brush activity as accents, and rhythmically configured shapes – come together into a marvelously resolved unit in Triner’s most recent oil painting, “Utilitarian City.” Clear, confident, loose, and whimsical, even the pervasive wispy black ‘slashes’ aren’t just casual outlines. They’re “overlines” that function like connecting wires in this delightfully animated cityscape – like a swaying, upwardly- pointed dance.

Performance metaphors aside, all serious painting is indeed a journey to developing a unique language, and a maturing in speaking that language. So there’s bound to be some mispronunciations along the way. Having mastered those, Chris Triner has certainly become notably fluent in his present vocabulary. With his facile brush and palette, the voice he gives to yet unexplored dialects should prove to be an even more fascinating travelogue and, like the current one, well worth following.

A FINAL NOTE: This show, called “Colorful Endeavors,” runs through November 6, and also includes 78 (!!!) nouveau-antique jewelry pieces by Jess Kinsinger, presented in a remarkably refreshing manner. If rapturous smiles were jewelry, they’d surely look like this.

Photo: “Summer’s Last Stand,” oil, by Chris Triner.

The Little Art Gallery, located in the North Canton Public Library, 185 North Main Street, North Canton. (330) 499 -4712, ext. 312 / HOURS are MWF 10 -6, TR 12 -8, Sat. 9-5

1 comment:

Christopher said...

Thank you Tom for you kind words. It has been indeed a journey. I have appreciated all of the feedback I got from people over the past few weeks. Keep up the great work on here.