In agricultural terms, humus is any organic matter that has reached a point where no further breakdown is possible. It is also a handy metaphor for imaginal fecundity and the creative process. Humus: A Collaboration of 21st Century Painters features three complementary artists and their abstract landscapes.
Wes Sherman, a Lipscomb alumnus who is currently based in New York, makes small canvases that seem to have grown from the seeds of photographs, barely discernible by the time he's finished the painterly brushings. While never completely abstract, some of Sherman's best pieces simultaneously embody familiar terrain as well as pure forms, lines and colors.
Gary Stephan, another New York-based artist who teaches at the School of Visual Arts MFA program, works on big canvases that differ from the others in the exhibition. His images are the most purely abstract, featuring colorful grids and geometric shapes that may take their cues from urban environments: A series of red-rectangles seems inspired by a brick wall; another rectangle-within-a-rectangle evokes a street-side window.
A professor at New York's Cooper Union, Judith Simonian makes images that, like Sherman's, also seem to sprout from photographs. Simonian's paintings, however, are realized in a psychedelic palette of hues — instances of recognizable realism collide with flourishings of erratic mark-making or unexpected fields of pure color. Simonian's large canvases allow viewers to visually enter into her spaces — making their otherness all the more seductive.
Simonian's colors and lines remind me of the abstracted landscapes Henri Matisse painted when he was labeled a "wild beast" for his radical perceptions. They also remind us that while one artist might paint what she sees, another might paint new eyes to see with.
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That clip is horrifying. It looks like postmortem makeup. Very uncanny valley.
AGGGHHHH that last picture!