January 25th, 2007
Tomory Dodge


The stout, deliberate passages of thickly applied, vigorously manipulated paint that compose Tomory Dodge’s oil-on-canvas works inevitably recall Gerhard Richter’s early abstract paintings. But unlike Richter, whose abstractions feel photographic and mechanical even without discernible imagery, Dodge’s work answers to a more whimsical, capricious logic, one opposed to the methodical processes of erasure and reconstitution Richter employs. His paintings most often arise from either memory or imagination, and consequently we are presented with bold, Technicolor fragments of a visual imprint imperfectly recalled, fighting to piece themselves together. 

Surprisingly, Dodge often retains conventional spatial relationships in his paintings, choosing to define a distinct background—typically a seductive, incident-free field of color—and a distinct foreground composed of brilliant, vivid dabs of paint, often so pronounced that they assume an object quality that clamors for attention independent of the broader composition. In certain cases—Early Riser, 2006, for example—this formula results in delectable pictures that seem vapid and frivolous, even at times decadent and simply decorative. In others, most notably Delta, 2006, Dodge settles on a subject—albeit the most oblique suggestion of one—that is ominous, dark, and uncannily powerful. In this painting, a gaping, cavernous mouth hungrily devours (or violently expurges) a sea of multicolored confetti. As incomprehensible as it is spellbinding, this menacing, enigmatic image is a pitch-perfect visual metaphor for our troubled historical moment.