Thursday, June 07, 2012

HJ Bott

HJ Bott, "Shuriken's Mob," 2011, co-polymer vinyl on canvas, 36" x 36" repost of my article published on May 2012.

Years ago, I was in a text and geometry art group show hosted by Artscan. Back then I met HJ Bott, but I was too nervous to talk to him. This weekend I had more confidence and talked to HJ Bott at his opening. His enthusiasm and presence lit up the room. He eagerly explained that the titles were not nonsensical like a Tom Robbins book as I first suspected, but each painting had concrete symbols that related to the titles.

The teardrop shaped object in the bottom right corner of “FLYING the BLUES,” actually represents water. I am so used to abstract art being separate from the real or concrete that I found this return to symbolism refreshing. The blues were truly flying in his painting. In “BeyondBar Symmetry,” he makes reference to Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” and for the first time in my life I have seen an artist make reference to Van Gogh and pull it off masterfully.

HJ Bott’s hard edge painting style is counterbalanced by his web of lines that flow behind the objects and quietly intersect other parts of the paintings. The shapes and curved lines seem to complement each other in a kind of dance between two different worlds. The duality of approaches is essentially still applying the idea of the line. The objects flow into lines which flow into objects. This concept is best described by HJ Bott himself and his developed system of Displacement of Volume or DoV. Where as most artists have statements about their work, HJ Bott has unearthed something deeper in art and design and he employs this discovery in many of his series of works.

This show really showcased HJ Bott’s fearlessness with color. “Mesocarp Mischief” with bright pinks, purples, and shapes with rainbow lines of color. My eyes first assaulted, and then compelled to look closer, then back away to take it all in, and right back up to the canvas to see the details. The colors of the lines seem to blend and blur into the other lines and background as you move away. The shapes with thick lines of color get more solid as you move closer. In fact, I found myself moving back and forth so I could get very different experiences.

HJ Bott’s show titled “Rhythm & Rhetoric” will be up at Anya Tish Gallery until June 9th. This 40 years celebration of his DoV system is really a present to anyone that sees the show.

For more pictures of the show, visit

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