San Francisco based artist John Wentz plays with texture and abstraction in what he calls his “fractured” oil paintings of figures. Previously featured on our blog, the figures in Went’z work have been described as hazy, dreamy, and stripped away, broken down to a combination of nondescript washes and bold areas of pigment that evoke the feeling of remembering a distant memory that comes back to us as distorted. In his artist statement, he explains that “working within the classical idiom of the human figure, his goal is to reduce and simplify the image to it’s core fundamentals: composition, color, and paint application.”
Hazy figures walk towards the viewer in John Wentz’s new series of oil paintings, their faces muddled as if conjured from some distant memory or last night’s dream. His solo show “Passages,” opening alongside Mike Davis’s “A Blind Man’s Journey” (see our recent studio visit with Davis here), is set to debut at San Francisco’s 111 Minna Gallery on October 3. Wentz’s work is optimally experienced in person. Playing with new textures, he steers his figurative paintings further into abstract territory, breaking down bodies into their basic components and exaggerating the ways light dances on them. Wentz deliberately calls attention to the paint itself, allowing pigments to bubble and burst and scraping away fine lines with a pencil. The results are disorienting and poignant, reminding us of the ways our own memories can be distorted and altered.
After witnessing a brutal act of violence near his San Francisco home, John Wentz coped with the trauma for months, regularly visiting a therapist and painting non-stop to heal the pain. This cathartic process resulted in a new body of work that Wentz debuted in a solo show titled “Synthesis” this past Friday at 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco. An exploration of the formation of the psyche starting from childhood, the drawings and paintings show a mysterious protagonist in a gas mask wandering a desolate world populated by crows. Read more after the jump!
Tonight, 111 Minna in San Francisco will open a large group show titled “Fantastic 50” featuring 50 emerging and established artists that have caught the eye of guest curator Irene Hernandez-Feiks of Wonderland SF. From the soft surrealism of Kukula to Lee Harvey Roswell’s time-warping paintings to John Wentz’ blurred, ghostly visions, the exhibition will provide a diverse sampling of aesthetics. Other exhibiting artists include Chor Boogie, Eric Joyner, Xiau Fong Wee, Jaxon Northon, Chris Leib, Alec Huxley, Laura Buss and many more. Take a look at a sneak peek after the jump and check out “Fantastic 50” at 111 Minna May 3 through the end of the month.
This Saturday at San Francisco’s Modern Eden Gallery, a large line-up of up-and-coming and established artists will be showing works in “Notorious,” a group exhibition that examines some of history’s most infamous characters. Between pop culture deviants with cult followings like Sid Vicious to ruthless monarchs such as Napoleon, the badasses whose stories have survived the tides of time will be represented through a variety of stylized portraits. Artists whom we’ve spotlighted recently on the blog (including John Wentz, Akira Beard and Lee Harvey Roswell) will be showcasing their unique styles. See the complete line-up after the jump!
San Francisco’s 111 Minna Gallery is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a massive group show in October. Numbering more than 40, the gallery says the artist roster represents “the culmination of its aesthetic.” The show kicks off Oct. 5 and runs through Oct. 20.