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The New Contemporary Art Magazine

Opening Night: Jim Houser’s “Night Got Quiet, Not Quite Light” at FFDG

This past weekend, Philadelphia-based artist Jim Houser opened his solo show at FFDG in San Francisco. Titled “Night Got Quiet, Not Quite Light.” The exhibition consists of Houser’s highly recognizable patchwork assemblages, as well as some minimalist mixed media works and site specific installations. Predominantly confined to his signature square format, this new show is a continuation of Houser’s exploration into the relationship between the visual and the aural. The interplay between text and imagery in Houser’s work makes way for an emotional narrative open to the interpretation of the viewer. Playfully rendered and meticulously composed, Houser acts as a visual storyteller, evoking an unencumbered youthful sentiment.

This past weekend, Philadelphia-based artist Jim Houser opened his solo show at FFDG in San Francisco. Titled “Night Got Quiet, Not Quite Light.” The exhibition consists of Houser’s highly recognizable patchwork assemblages, as well as some minimalist mixed media works and site specific installations. Predominantly confined to his signature square format, this new show is a continuation of Houser’s exploration into the relationship between the visual and the aural. The interplay between text and imagery in Houser’s work makes way for an emotional narrative open to the interpretation of the viewer. Playfully rendered and meticulously composed, Houser acts as a visual storyteller, evoking an unencumbered youthful sentiment.

His unmistakable palette of varying reds and blues establishes a flat, graphic baseline for an echelon of texture and line work. “I always say the two main things I draw from are blood and the sea,” the artist states in an interview with FFDG. Experimenting with different raised surfaces and materials, Houser’s work borders on a thin line between painting and sculpture. Utilizing commonplace items and materials like wood and twine as well as incorporating geometric shapes, illustrative figures and highly stylized typography, Houser’s new body of work pays homage to his preceding patchwork collages all while stripping down to a more simplistic visual language. A new father, he states that his art-making has become more focused: “Things enter my painting vocabulary very slowly, a lot of themes are considered carefully. [My son] Seamus has worked his way in there, my hopes and fears for him. We’ve done some collaborative work too.”

Symbology and raw emotional resonance are at the center of Houser’s work, drawing upon themes of identity, isolation, fear and sense of self. Imagery of solitary figures in the midst of uncertainty, either shot full of arrows, severed in half or drowning in an invisible sea are all crisply contrasted by Houser’s charming color palette and folk-inspired aesthetic. Iconographic and powerful, “Night Got Quiet, Not Quite Light” seeks to cut through the noise to a simpler, less complicated place.

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Jim Houser's paintings for his upcoming show “Night Got Quiet — Not Quite Light,” opening July 11 at FFDG in San Francisco, illustrate small, personal vignettes. The Philadelphia-based artist's works combine a multitude of influences that give them a folkloric, antiquated feel. The text Houser frequently uses recalls the hand-painted signs of past decades; his patchwork-like compositions layer colors like the different fabrics in a quilt. It's as if his work yearns for the hand-made softness and imperfection that has largely been lost in a world of ultra-modern, computerized design.
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Jeremy Fish's solo show "Yesterdays and Tomorrows" at San Francisco's FFDG has a carefully planned installation. Black lines on the gallery's left wall outline a cartoon thought bubble that houses almost 20 years worth of drawings; on the parallel wall of the narrow space, mural-scale paintings hang inside the hollow outlines of cartoon bunnies painted directly on the room's surface. But at the opening night of "Yesterdays and Tomorrows," it was difficult to even get close enough to see these meticulous details. A huge crowd had amassed to celebrate an informal retrospective of one of San Francisco's most well-known artists from the past two decades.
Based in Mexico City, Curiot (featured in HF Vol. 29) creates phantasmagoric paintings where deity-like monsters traverse the clouds. The silhouettes of tiny people floating in their wake reveal that human beings look like mere playthings in comparison. Last weekend, Curiot debuted his latest solo show, "Down the Rabbit Hole with Neon Lights," at San Francisco's FFDG, as well as a downtown mural curated by Fifty24SF, another local gallery. According to FFDG, the new paintings in Curiot's exhibition allude to the rapid pace of technology and the consequential environmental pollution. His creatures travel through a mysterious continuum to attempt to reach the "vortex of souls," only to get sucked into the past where they must confront their previous wrongdoing.

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