A Jubilant Confluence
By Tom Wachunas
“… in both life and art, we register only those details that actually matter to us. What, then, are the roles of seeing relationships, accidents, morphologies, systems? Do we communicate what we see in metaphors? Allusions? Parables? Abstractions? Structures? What, indeed, are the processes of thinking and wondering that make science and the arts work?” - Jack McWhorter
EXHIBIT: Simply Burning – Paintings by Jack McWhorter, THROUGH MARCH 8 at Gallery 121, 121 Lincoln Way West, downtown Massillon. Hours: Monday – Thursday 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. / Friday – Saturday 11:00 a.m. – midnight / closed Sundays
If you’ve not ventured into downtown Massillon in the last several months, don’t be too deceived by the name of the venue now hosting a solo exhibit by painter Jack McWhorter. While Gallery 121 isn’t exclusively an art gallery per se, from the outset the owners of this new upscale nightspot for food and cocktails were seriously committed to sating aesthetic appetites as well by providing a very long white wall, brightly lit and fitted to hang original art.
I think it useful if not necessary to introduce those of you not yet familiar with McWhorter’s work by directing you to a review I wrote in 2012: http://artwach.blogspot.com/2010/02/molecularities-and-other-quarknesses.html
In many ways, what I said then is still apropos to this collection of 16 paintings, most of them from 2014. McWhorter continues to explore the confluence of art and science – a remarkable formalization of intuition. The push-and-pull dynamic between organic and geometric shapes and structures still constitutes his visual syntax. And the paintings continue to evoke cosmological and/or biological diagrams, models, or paradigms that scientists use to delineate the workings of esoteric physical phenomena and ephemeral forces in flux.
Yet these recent works are invested with a distinctly more intensified painterly panache than in the past. Even when a layer of paint gets scraped away or thinned, the overall character of the markmaking exudes a rigorous confidence. Coupled with a brighter, more elevated palette, many of these newer pieces pulse, seethe and crackle with what can only be called jubilant energy in the way they describe excited interactions of rhythm, pattern and motion – systems or processes simultaneously matured and nascent, static and morphing.
A particularly effective component of the exhibit are the small reproductions of line drawings with text notes mounted alongside the paintings. The drawings appear to be the germs of ideas for structuring the picture plane, i.e., establishing a pictorial architecture. The notes – streamings of single words and brief phrases – often read like a lyrical flow of consciousness, as in this example accompanying the painting titled Sudden Change : Living system/ rendering examples of time / choices symbolic / outside, inside/ impossible to draw / dwell within
Think of these combined elements – sketches and text - as conceptual guideposts or prompts for interpreting nuances of meaning in the paintings. And in the process, you might consider how it is indeed possible to articulate intriguing poetry with a paint brush.
PHOTOS, from top: Fire and Purity, oil and graphite powder on paper, 20x26 inches, 2011 / Fire Water, oil on canvas, 54x60 inches, 2014 / Aggregate, oil on canvas, 54x60 inches, 2014 / Sudden Change, oil on canvas, 34x40 inches, 2014 / Desire and Change, oil on canvas, 34x40 inches, 2014