Bold Blobs of Acrylic Color

Gordon Terry’s plastic splashes convey humor, and a considered design

The first time I encountered Gordon Terry’s work was during a trip to Paris in June of 2002. I had spent the day being pushed around by Parisians and tourists (of which I was one) in long museum lines. Worn out and lost, I stumbled into this artist’s show at the g-module gallery. In Terry’s work I found some odd little narratives illustrating the exhibition’s title “Black Holes, Bohemians, Colonials and Boudoirs.”

In his current one-person show, “The Supernatural World in Which I am Professionally Involved,” at the Mike Weiss Gallery through November 15, Terry creates pristine moments of color with a touch of irreverent humor. According to the exhibition’s press release and an essay in the accompanying catalog, his interests are encyclopedic, spanning colonial American genealogy through drug culture, alchemy, and mysticism.

Upon entering the gallery, you will encounter medium and small works with pumped up color. Of particular interest are three works from his “Idealized Setting” series. These illustrative works on paper depict colonial homes and baroque interiors with sickeningly sweet blobs of plastic fantastic acrylic color intruding into an empty narrative, all framed in cast black rubber. A few more steps into the gallery, you will encounter great gobs of paint. The work stands at operatic attention.

Terry’s paintings convey a prefabricated consciousness; at first they appear to be joyously spontaneous but upon further examination have a considered “design” that cuts across the entire show. All of the paintings—ranging in size from 12×12” to a mammoth 96×72”—are plastic on plastic, or more precisely acrylic paint placed or poured onto acrylic panels. Some have a glossy black reflective painting ground interrupting your reflection with a grid of candy–sweet preconceived paint splotches. Other paintings, such as “Drug Cocktailed Excursions into Black Lore,” have a translucent panel revealing the construction beneath and underscoring the artificiality of the idea of the paint depicting anything other than paint in flatland. Terry’s work has rich references to pattern painting and cool painterly pulp abstraction with nods to painters such as Phillip Taffe, Ross Bleckner, and Frank Holliday.

Terry has put on a fine show for us; it is worth taking the time to pay a visit.

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