Sunday, August 05, 2012

John-Paul Philippe

John-Paul Philippe, Butte, 2007 emulsified gouache on paper, 32 x 32”

A re-post of my article at in July 2012.

John-Paul Philippe’s show at Barry Whistler Gallery is like being transported back in time, where early 20th century artists were just developing abstract art. You might say his work is very retro, but you would be missing out on some of the newer approaches Philippe is incorporating in each painting, drawing, or sculpture.

I dropped by the gallery during installation, so works were waiting to be hung and some drawings were out on a table. I love this moment before the installation, because you feel the creative energy of the gallery curator as well as the artist. John-Paul Philippe’s large drawing on the wall along with his drawing on paper had this unfinished process look. The drawings looked like sketches for the paintings, yet managed to stand alone as finished pieces.

John-Paul Philippe’s painting brought me back to the 2008 Amon Carter Museum show of 40’s Fort Worth Circle Artists. I felt he has a real kinship to North Texas art traditions. Maybe because he is from Oklahoma or he has just tapped into the past through his use of color and line. I think Philippe is bringing his work forward from the past through his use of hard-edge painting techniques and his attention to current design trends. He uses gouache which tends to create a highly graphic look. The lines constantly draw your eye around and into the painting, without much means of escape.

You can best experience his rootedness into High Modernism through his sculptural objects. These three dimensional pieces look to be functional as tea light holders and referencing Alexander Calder’s non-mobile works. I have mixed feelings about the work being possibly functional, but maybe I still have some Modernist hang-ups. After all, decorative work has been turned upside down by our current artists, so what is wrong with completely embracing the decorative, while maintaining a sculptural tradition? Personally, I am foggy on the issue.

John-Paul Philippe will bring you back and pull you forward in time with his grouping of highly crafted “Hill Works.” His show runs through July 26th at the Barry Whistler Gallery. for more images.

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