Saturday, May 19, 2012

Christopher French

Manic Epiphany, 2009, Mixed media on paper 25 1/4 x 23 1/2 inches

A repost from my review at ModernHouston.net in April 2012.

If extra-terrestrials drop by for a visit, I think the first place they would go to is Devin Borden Gallery to read Christopher French’s messages in paint on linen. With an appropriately titled show, “Between Heaven and Home,” French seems to be speaking an otherworldly language with his abstract patterns of circles. “Between” implies a space and time that is indefinable couched around two points, words, objects, or even people. Like French’s work, the most interesting art comes from a place somewhere in between.

The paintings of lines exploding to circle points have a cold mathematical logic warmed by very earthy colors. French seems to be capturing the first nanosecond of cream dropping in coffee, or the first moment of the big bang. Both might look similar before the next few moments when chaos takes over. The lines imply movement and rapid acceleration. This is in direct contrast with his T-Top painting series, which seems to just vibrate with little movement. However, French blunts the explosive effects of the lines and circles through a muted earth tone palate.
French’s works are not about any particular thing, I see an illusion to some ideas. The moment I saw “Swarm” I thought of crop circles. The painting uses similar patterns and circles that reflect some of those messages from or to the sky. The work “Touchy-Feely,” uses a similar strategy that makes me see a pattern of rapid cell growth. Whatever French’s intent, it would seem these works continue to spark my imagination.
French is not one to force the hard-edge look when a little coarse hand gesture will help to imply a chaotic universe. His circles are often very tightly painted, but his lines seem to be free-hand. Plus the background surface is irregular and softly spectacled or streaked. This step away from the pure graphic form makes for very approachable and human work. Be you someone from outer space or someone that wants to challenge the space between your ears, then you will have plenty of time to see this show, because Christopher French’s work will be up until May 8th.

For more images of the show visit ModernHouston.net.

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