3.05.2008

John Zurier: Night Paintings

John Zurier Night 23 Distemper on Linen 20x30 inches

John Zurier Night 20 Distemper on Linen 20x30 inches

Poking around the Old City district of Philadelphia last Saturday, my husband, Jamie Whittemore, and I happened upon John Zurier's eloquent show, Night Paintings, at Larry Becker Contemporary Art. Wandering from the street into this intimate space, on a quiet morning with soft spring-ish light about, we were so pleased to spend a generous, comfortable hour with Heidi and Larry, amidst Zurier's beautiful surfaces. Really, it couldn't get much better than this...

The paintings, all 12 close
in scale and blue hue, are created through a process Zurier refers to as distemper: a mixture of dry pigment and hide glue thinned with water and embedded into raw linen in thin, multiple layers. The resulting surfaces become subtle journeys of the artist's mark and color, in this case resonating pthalo, deep ultramarine and bright lapis-like blues with undertones of veridian and the earthy raw linen evident at the edges and throughout. They are uniformly finished with swathing wide horizontal strokes against the final surface. These are profoundly personal, and fragile, paintings -- so wonderfully displayed within the gallery.

I had a chance to speak with both Zurier and
his wife, photographer Nina Hubbs Zurier, later that evening. John's focus of surface, line and gesture are similar to my own, and it was nice to share a bit of our individual experience together. He and Nina live in Berkely. Both show also with Wade Wilson in Houston and John with Peter Blum in NYC. John Zurier is someone whose work I will follow, and look forward to knowing better.

The exhibit continues through April 19.

5 comments:

Fiona said...

Stunning Kate, and so lyrically described. It is so interesting to hear about his process too. Definitely one to watch.
F

Anonymous said...

Kate: so glad you got to see this show. I found the paintings so imbued with a fugitive quality, like the light just as dawn approaches. The distemper is not a hearty medium or process and produces a velvety, matte surface. It is a medium and technique used for decorative objects and/or scene painting in theater that is likely to be destroyed or painted over, which is a fine metaphor for the passing of time. Lovely paintings. Intimate experience.
Pam Farrell

Munira said...

Kate, you are so lucky to see these beautiful paintings live. Even the images are stunning. I dont know if distemper is the same paint medium I remember as a child used for interior house paint.
Munira

Fiona said...

Hi Kate
I checked out all the links which you posted. It is really useful and interesting to be directed to these sites. They are things that I would never have found in any other way. I found Nina Hubbs Zurier's photographs very beautiful. They are ethereal but have bite. I particularly liked Archipelago because of the grays and Hegemony. Now as for the gallery links I found those very interesting because it seems to me that there is more respect for and more galleries showing very abstract work in the States than there are in England. Although it may be just that you have selected the few who do.
F

Amaryllis said...

Thanks for writing this.