Jon Thompson: ANTHONY REYNOLDS GALLERY
Sam, Sherman, Artforum International
Apart from being a noted educator, curator, and writer, Jon Thompson has also been an amateur Gouldologist: His latest paintings, like those in his previous exhibition at Anthony Reynolds Gallery in 2009, take their inspiration from the great Canadian pianist Glenn Gould, whom Thompson has clearly been reading and listening to attentively; this entire ongoing series, "The Toronto Cycle," begun in 2008, takes its name from Gould's hometown. The new paintings have a rectilinear structure with a division down the middle and bands of color running across each half; a sliver of white forms an edge all around the canvas, reinforcing the image. The overall effect is to divide each painting into two columns of colored bands, establishing a sense of both vertically and horizontally. This is a deliberate nod toward Maurice Merleau-Ponty's dialectic between the vertical Being and the horizontal landscape, and perhaps a hint at Gould's notion of the "plasticity" of sound consisting of "vertical and horizontal sensations." The simple format allows Thompson to push basic aspects of color--chroma, tone, and hue--to the fore.
At first glance, geometric abstraction comes to mind, followed by Op art and even blanket patterns. Thompson's color is intended to create a complex intellectual experience. All the new paintings bear the subtitles "Cadence and Discord" and "Ttaer los Sentidos"--the Spanish means something like "bringing the senses to bear"--and each subtitle also includes a pair of initials referring to an artistic precursor; for instance, MB would be Max Beckmann. The paintings don't conjure specific artworks but rather the atmosphere created by the cited artist's characteristic color sense--the most obvious example being the dark mood of Beckmann in The Toronto Cycle #15 Cadence and Discord (MB) Traer los Sentidos, 2011. …