Art & Exhibitions
March 26th, 2010
New tricks for old abstraction from Tomory Dodge
By BEN LUKE
Tomory Dodge’s paintings offer a pure blast of painterly energy. Fields of colour are the stage for blizzards of kaleidoscopically hued paint applied in dizzyingly diverse ways: blunt lozenges, scumbles and smears, thick lines squeezed directly from the tube.
In the Los Angeles-based artist’s early works, elements of the real world — trees, icebergs, even a drum kit — could be found amid the storms of paint, but lately these have been eradicated. At 35, he’s now an abstract painter. This is a tricky field to enter, explored almost to the point of exhaustion. But while you can find hints of great painters in Dodge’s work, such as the blur of Gerhard Richter, and the expressionist gestures of Willem de Kooning, it never feels derivative.
The dominant works in this show are a series of diptychs, in which two canvases reflect one another in reverse. Slowly, painstakingly, Dodge makes a mark on one side, and then attempts to mirror it on the other. This process might have corrupted the improvised vitality of the work, but in fact it enhances it, because the painter’s endeavours to replicate his actions always fail. Each mark remains distinct and the paint proves wonderfully unpredictable.
This is what Dodge’s pictures are ultimately about: paint itself. He clearly loves the stuff — its capacity for opacity and transparency, liquidity and solidity, robustness and delicacy. The sheer exuberance of paint and variety of hue means that these works are permanently on the edge of excess. And yet Dodge seems instinctively to know, as Jean Cocteau once put it, “how far to go too far”.
Until 24 April (020 7631 4720, www.alisonjacquesgallery.com)