John H. Greer at George Billis

John H. Greer, No. 4, 2001. Acrylic on canvas, 12 inches diameter.


February 4 - March 1, 2003

The George Billis Gallery is featuring paintings by New York City based artist John H. Greer from February 4 - March 1, 2003. A reception for the artist will take place on Thursday, February 6, from 6 - 8 PM. The Gallery is located at 511 West 25th Street on the ground floor, between 10th and 11th Avenues. Gallery hours are Tuesday - Saturday, from 11 AM - 6 PM, and by appointment.

I've arrived at this current work by a bumpy, circuitous route. My first loves, Rembrandt and Cezanne, opened my eyes to painting and set me on course. Led more by visceral response than intellectual curiosity, I subsequently stumbled through the influences of divergent kinds of painting from often contradictory schools of thought. However, looking back, I see that the underlying link was my fascination with the elusive sensation of physical space and the kinesthetic response that paintings can provoke. For me, this obvious but uncanny link between touch and sight is basic to painting. Likewise, it is for no "better" reason than a sensation of buoyant instability that I am drawn to the circular format.

Presently, I apply a set of parameters which provides a scaffolding for my work. Three broad concepts undergird the process. First, schematic clarity, ie., a self-evident visual vocabulary that avoids arbitrary and accidental effects. Second, a non-hierarchical structure that allows all the elements to bear equal structural potential. This is why I use the primary colors, to prevent a hierarchy of color relations, to allow each color independent, equal visibility. Third, simultaneity, ie., to make more than one thing happen at the same time in the same space. This is potentially achieved by intersecting structures so this or that group of shapes can stand on its own or visually align with its constituent structures.

These paintings begin with a gesture that loops over, onto, into and through itself to create a "body" of overlapping movement similar to the curl of a wave. Echoing this gesture across the circle's surface creates overlapping ripple effects that lay out a field of potential permutations. By necessity each painting accumulates many layers through multiple reworking. The textural accumulation across the surface becomes an important drawing method and is intrinsic to the clarification of the image. My intention is to make clear, concrete visual/tactile paintings that invite the viewer to participate in the not necessarily simple pleasures of looking.

– Artist Statement by John H. Greer, 2003

About this exhibition, art critic Ken Johnson of the New York Times wrote, "Using only red, yellow and blue, Mr. Greer makes compact abstract paintings consisting of swerving stripes on rectangles or densely interlaced narrow bands filling circular canvases. With their lumpy, plastic surfaces, the paintings have tactile sensuousness, while the primary colors and intense patterns mesmerize the eye.