On what ground?

Greg Parker and Noa Warren at June Fitzpatrick
By IAN PAIGE  |  October 16, 2008

GRAPHING AMBIGUITY: “238 2008,” acrylic
on linen on panel, 7 by 14 inches, by Noa

The experience gap between Greg Parker and Noa Warren makes their joint show at the June Fitzpatrick Gallery at the Maine College of Art all the more exciting. Parker is a veteran Maine painter; Warren, a recent MECA grad, is a studio assistant to Parker. All of the works shown in “New Paintings” are from this year and suggest that the two are less divided by experience than they are united by an unequivocally obsessive dedication to detailed craft, a philosophical approach to ambiguity in the work, and a sculptural eye for the painting as art object.

Each one of Parker’s untitled works is composed of repeatedly applied layers of oil and graphite on panel, built up to an illusory three-dimensionality of abstracted geometries. His technique is so tested it is at times difficult to tell whether his interlocking shapes are stemming from the picture plane or jigsawed from separate panels.

But Parker’s pieces are more about exploration than illusion. His use of color makes the pieces ripple with dimensionality and invites the viewer to approach each work from a multitude of angles. Parker is a master of pigment, able to make entire landscapes with color. In this sense, the viewer becomes the light source, able to alter the scene by casting shadows and moving toward highlights.

This role for the viewer is easiest to experience when the artist chooses to work small. One piece juts out from the wall like a miniature Donald Judd sculpture, but the comparison stops there. Parker’s work is too detailed to dwell in the world of minimalism. Constantly shifting walnut hues are warm and embracing. Surface scratches are possibly a result of a constant polishing process that leaves the edges of the panel beveled, but more likely they are intended to encourage deeper viewing. Every piece is a world unto itself, bearing the unique aura of Parker’s attempts to make that world as perfect as possible.

Although Warren does not plumb the same emotional depths as his employer, he shows a remarkably similar dedication to inventing new visual language through technique. His pieces are both large and small, unorthodox sizes of panel bound in raw linen and fused together to form more traditional dimensions. Warren’s technique involves building up clear acrylic and carefully scoring a grid of incisions that serve as canals for thin lines of color. The inspiration for the grid is graph paper, folded or crumpled up and then spread back down flat. Warren is able to meticulously draw each bend and curve, anticipating the subtle shifts in line at the center that become radical topographical changes at the outer edges. In one particular example, the crinkles and creases that require emulation are so numerous, Warren’s blue lines begin to look like a choppy sea before a storm.

1  |  2  |   next >
Related: Seeking Relevance, The folk and the fine, Review: The Edge of Love, More more >
  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Painting, Visual Arts, Donald Judd,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   CONVERSATION PIECE  |  April 29, 2009
    Leon Johnson explains his trans-historical-post-colonial-dinner-wait-what?!
  •   GROWING PAINS  |  April 08, 2009
    Although no one piece in this spartan biennial is lacking in value, the collective effect is one destined to get lost in the Rolodex.
  •   STATE OF THE ARTS  |  April 01, 2009
    In Portland, and around Southern Maine, developing trends hold promise for our changing, but still cantankerously distinct, artistic character to act as a new kind of cultural reflection.
  •   HANGING IN THE BALANCE  |  March 11, 2009
    Septuagenarian Andre LaPorte may be a veteran artist but, relative to his long career, he is a new painter.
  •   ALTERED STATES  |  March 04, 2009
    Talking drugs, Zen, and painting with art critic Ken Johnson

 See all articles by: IAN PAIGE