by jdubz / Words
INKJET BOMBS – CATALOG ESSAY BY JOHN AUSTIN
Justin Wood sets up the contrasts in his techno gestural schema where color, texture and scale deliberately interfere to create a visual resistance to the play of infinite depth seen in the artist’s painterly passages. In his Inkjet Bombs installation, the artist creates a “dissociation sensibility” with the ironic lack of relation between one feeling tone and another tone within ink marks. This evokes a pictorial illusion of deep space, which is undercut by the artist’s application of collage and slashes of color. The result is a heightened drama of the pure “factness” of his paint materials that seem to have their own proud volition as they assert the flatness of the picture plane and support surface as surface itself.
What we see therefore is not exactly what we get. We feel contested territory in Wood’s work. Optical roller-coaster effects are held in careful balance through the artist’s sheer craftsmanship and, importantly, through his judicious cropping and editing. The limits of the artist’s work are cadenced with exactitude and nuance allowing the spectator to enter the picture plane through multiple viewpoints. Wood’s work reminds us that the poetry in good abstract painting is in its infinite potential to revitalize its dialog with the viewer, to resist immediate comprehensibility through formal inventiveness.
The inventiveness of transcendence that plays itself out so readily in Wood’s art is particularized through the ambiguities of scale. Scale plays an important role in apprehending the given object and its gestural components in its given context of origin. Wood’s washes, splashes and spaces create a system of signification through its obstinate conflating of the near and the far, the close-up and the far away, the miniature and the gigantic. This is evident within each painting and within the installation combining large 4’x8′ ink on polypropylene paintings, medium 24″x24″ works and video projection.
As a result, it becomes hard to pin down definitively whether the eye is to place itself at a remove from the painterly action, so as to give it more narrative play, or if we are immersed in action which occurs at a micro logical, hence magnified, level. In the latter case, the piecemeal and personalized reading permits a greater sensation of mastery and temporality. Analogies between us and our own status within a larger historical or social context will necessarily accrue as residual reading of this temporal matrix. This compelling juxtapositions sensed as the work’s clearly organized frenzy demonstrates the painter’s exceedingly suave commitment to the essence of art, which Irving Sandler has defined as “the… way of heightening safety feeling… through the modification and control of perception.”
Exploring non-representational Wood’s paintings re-vitalize the world in one sense by referencing its materiality. On the other hand, the artist makes the world more insecure through his churning abstractionism, and allows timelessness and presentness to intrude on notions of recording, mimetically, the life-world. Instead, fleeting perceptions and sensations within the artist’s sensorium are tracked are tracked and recorded through gesture and color, and through his uninhibited blotches and slashing. The immediate, the concrete and the irreducible of modern life is what Justin Wood has chosen to bring to light in his work. His coloristically saturated paintings are the surrogate psychic spaces that resonate with our own value and emotion-laden perceptions of a world both atomized and united in a frenzy of space, speed and time.