On March 28th Thinkspace Gallery had two solo shows opening congruently with Los Angeles based artist Seth Armstrong’s “The Air is Thick” and NY based artist Erik Jones “Color/Full”. The two bodies of work setting two different tones that both excite and entice the imagination, while captivating a direct audience. Opening night was packed to the brim and the wine was flowing slowly as lines of people gathered in the project space, to view “Color/Full”, while the main gallery contained wall-to-wall patrons that surrounded “The Air Is Thick”. Seth Armstrong was born and raised in Los Angles “…After studying painting in Northern Holland, he received a BFA from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Many happy years later, he left his home in Oakland and moved back to Los Angeles, where he now lives and works". Armstrong uses a traditional approach to painting starting with an amber under painting that materializes into figures that are then layered with oil paints. Each line and stroke forming a natural addition to his characters and visual scenarios. His work standing out as almost cinematic, or Hollywood inspired as most of his paintings have visual references to Bond films, 70’s B action dramas, and a contemporary voyeuristic documentation from an on looking position of control and power. Each piece charged with a subtle suggestion of intimacy, as he allows us into these tight spaces that belong to a much larger story. Seth “…builds tension and excitement in every painting with the possibility and expectation of action. Surfeited with this palpable sense of permanent anticipation and arrest, the air is indeed thick enough to cut”. The air thickened from the tension that’s drenched in moody tones, reminiscent of another time that was both free and offbeat.
Erik Jones was born and raised in St.Petersburg Florida. “He received a bachelor’s degree from Ringling College of Art and Design in 2007. Out of college, working primarily in cover illustration, Erik toured the US, showing at different pop culture and art conventions. He abruptly moved to New York, in 2009, with a trash bag full of clothes and a few other personal items and he now resides comfortably in Brooklyn. His process starts with a gestured and simply stylized photo shoot, which informs his frame of reference of the female form. Then he renders the image to his style and vision and marks in the first sketches with color pencil, layers of watercolors, acrylic, water-soluble wax pastel and finished with water-soluble oil on paper, wood, and canvas. Erik’s work is active and rich with colors that are sporadically and meticulously marked around a hyper realism that forms a juxtaposition of chaos and control. In his new body of work “…Jones takes his penchant for spatial play and surreal composition to the next level in a series of Dimensional Paintings. These works invade the third dimension, literally, as surfaces peel from their supports, images slide from the walls, and paint pools on the floor”. Breaking up the visual planes as these female faces and forms are peeled back, flowered open, and masked in dripping pools of paint that lend to the sculptural feel of the pieces. Each woman only represented as a piece of the whole and painted as a head, an eye, a bust, and a half legged torso that has her dripping paint from the eyes and lower abdomen, pushing the form into abstraction.
The “The Air Is Thick” and “Color/Full” are both on view until April 18th, so please take a much-needed trip to the Westside at Thinkspace Gallery.
Images and words by Jaklin Romine