Saturday, May 18, 2024

Reading the insides out, below the betweens


Reading the insides out, below the betweens 


On Reflection




Fired Up

Beneath the Surface


By Tom Wachunas 

“…the layers of a painting challenge us to explore its depth and seek to understand the mystery — urging the hidden things to come forward and reveal themselves. What's beneath the layers, in our paintings or in our lives? What would we find hidden there, if only we could remove all that obscures it? That mystery is one I enjoy exploring and expressing in my work.”  -Tom Delameter

“Energy and motion made visible – memories arrested in space…The thing that interests me is that today painters do not have to go to a subject matter outside of themselves. Most modern painters work from a different source, they work from within.  ― Jackson Pollock


   EXHIBIT: Depth of Feel - Paintings by Tom Delameter, resident artist at Patina Arts Centre/ 324 CEVELAND AVENUE NW, downtown Canton, Ohio / THROUGH JUNE 8, 2024 / Current Gallery viewing hours:  Thursdays 12 – 8p.m., Saturdays 5 – 9p.m., also 5 – 9p.m. on the last Friday of every month, plus every Canton First Friday 5 – 9p.m.

Palimpsest (noun):  a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which traces remain; something having usually diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface / something such as a work of art that has many levels of meaning, types of style, etc. that build on each other.

   On in his website (hyperllnk posted above), Canton painter Tom Delameter tells us, “I would say I'm a self-taught artist, but that's not totally accurate. More like life-taught. Which is okay. My artistic expression began to come out later in life…”  In the process, he was attracted to Abstract Expressionism. I’m sure he was lured by what he calls “…its emphasis on spontaneous, personal expression over traditional techniques or subject matter.”

   Which is to say that on one level, the subject matter claimed and embraced by many abstract expressionist painters, such as the mid-20th century trailblazer, Jackson Pollock - and many other adherents to his aesthetic - is the process of making the painting itself. It’s painting about… painting. That process ceased being a traditional exercise in imitation of natural reality, or illusionism, becoming instead a discrete performative action. Call it an improvised confluence of intent, intuition, and chance. The old tyranny of representational imagery was usurped in favor of articulating a uniquely more personal energy.

   I don’t mean to imply that Delameter’s brand of abstraction looks a lot like Jackson Pollock’s sublime messes of drips and poured splatters. Far from it. For starters, Delameter’s acrylic works in his current series, which he collectively calls Depth of Feel, are on a scale considerably smaller than Pollock’s commanding enormities. That said, there’s still a kinship between the two. You could consider them maybe second or third cousins in terms of how they distribute an “all-over” variety of gestures and marks that cover the painting surface. That distribution, however, appears comparatively more structured and rhythmic in Delameter’s paintings, imbuing many of them with a distinct sense of verticality.

   The scale of his works is such that they aren’t intimidating environments that overwhelm your physical field of vision so much as they invite quiet meditation and introspection. They’re not dizzy dance floors where paint has been flung at high velocity (à la Pollock). Rather, in all their accumulated layerings and gesticulations of the painter’s hand, Delameter’s intimate canvases strike me as ornamented symbolic writings of a kind. Palimpsest metaphors, if you will. These are flows of consciousness, states of mind or conditions of heart which over time emerged, were altered, and/or covered up, and/or redefined.

   They’re not just paintings about painting as a performative act. They’re also about you, the viewer, and your own performative action of looking with intent as well as intuition. So look closely, look long. Read between the lines. Feel the depth.