Joshua Liner Gallery is pleased to present Sprung, an exhibition of new paintings by the California-based artist Oliver Vernon. This is Vernon’s second solo show with the gallery.
Created with acrylic and ink on paper, canvas, and wood, Vernon’s small-, medium-, and large-format works depict the artist’s colorful vision of the cosmos, where nature and culture collide (or cooperate) in the creation (or destruction) of the universe. Any questions of origin or outcome are overpowered by the sheer dynamism of Vernon’s images: a balletic interplay of protoplasm, cultural signs, geometric abstraction, and bravura brush-work.
In this new body of work inspired by the landscape of Northern California (produced since Vernon relocated his studio from Brooklyn), elements of the local environment—hills, forests, rivers, wide open sky—ground the artist’s cosmic wanderings in a new sense of place. This shift has intensified both the realist and abstract aspects of his work. Cues from the landscape serve as recognizable points of departure for the artist’s abstract explorations of space and pattern, including his twisting, idiosyncratic rendering of planar dimensions. Vernon uploads a new inventory of forms and techniques into these dynamic paintings, stacking layers of improvisation one upon another.
Minyon, for example, takes a hawk’s-eye view of lovely Grass Valley, swooping down through painterly passages of lozenge shapes in brown and blue (abstractions of earth and water) and a cascading series of staircases (à la M.C. Escher). Sprung works from the lowlands upward, building layer on layer of graphic patterns and architectural elements interspersed with rolling hills, fir trees, gushing rivers, and country roads—an idealized merger of the natural and “man-made” environment (both built and merely imagined). In the tour-de-force Teepee, a river squall tosses an upward spiral of patterns, architectural elements, floral motifs, graphic designs, and waterspouts, all rendered in jagged planes of shifting perspective.
As always in Vernon’s work, the visual transitions between elements and their interrelationship take greater importance over specific details, and Vernon dispenses with any fixed position in the landscape or its realist depiction. His quirky combinations of organic, mechanical, cosmological, and cultural elements teem with lively intelligence. Their intuitive grasp of the relationship between energy and matter, thought and action, also references wide segments of cultural production, including Native American art forms, contemporary Japanese graphic design, 20th century Surrealism, and New York School abstract painting. Vernon’s “cosmos” creates a fluid atmosphere where cultural material moves in and out of focus, allowing the artist to explore the “deconstruction and reconstruction of visual space.”
Born in New York in 1972, Oliver Vernon received his BFA from Parsons School of Design in 1995, and currently lives and works in Grass Valley, California. Solo exhibitions of his work include: Unexpected Occurrences, Joshua Liner Gallery, New York (2009); Macro/Micro, Irvine Contemporary Gallery, Washington DC, and Oliver Vernon, Microcosm Gallery, New York (both 2007); Infinity Within, Lineage Gallery, Philadelphia (2006). Selected group exhibitions include: Summer Group Exhibition, Joshua Liner Gallery, New York (2010); The Art of Rebellion, Bergamot Station Arts Center, Santa Monica, CA (2009); Claiming Space—Context and Urban Art, BLVD Gallery, Seattle (2007); and Minds Wide Open, Light Space Gallery, Venice, CA (2005).