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.