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John Bonick & Tim Yankosky @ Andrea Schwartz

John Bonick: Entanglement 13, 2014, oil on panel, 60 x 56 x 2"

Like many artists with a scientific/spiritual bent, John Bonick tries to visualize infinity. Entanglement, his latest series of nature-inspired paintings, consists of curvilinear geometric shapes set atop “shadow” forms that echo those on the surface.  The interaction between those bold, hard-edged shapes and their faint, subsurface counterparts produces an Op-like energy that ricochets along labyrinthian paths. Like fractals, these paintings unfold kaleidoscopically, as if exponentially greater levels of magnification were thrust into view with every backward step. At close range they are unremarkable; but starting at a distance of about 10 feet, these recursive shapes begin to writhe, merge and change places, an effect that continues as you step further and further away.

Serpentine forms such as these have long been used to activate spiritual impulses.  Bonick’s echo those seen in Islamic architecture, and in that regard, his edge-to-edge deployment of them recalls the paintings of Valerie Jaudon, a pioneer pattern and decoration artist who hit her stride in the late ‘70s.  Jaudon sought to establish the validity of ornament against a hostile critical establishment that considered it soft, bourgeoisie. Bonick, whose career dates to the mid-‘90s, came to P&D with no such opposition; by then artists like Philip Taaffe were on the ascent, and P&D had become a respected pursuit. 
Tim Yankosky, Size Queen

Bonick approaches it as a process painter, keeping Max Ernst’s dictum (“Keep the object outside of your reach and you will create it endlessly”) firmly in mind as he searches for ways to convey the notion of a universal energy that flows in and around the invisible particles that make up all living things.  

He’s paired here with Tim Yankosky, an artist who works with vintage metal tape measures.  The artist slices them into strips of varying length and affixes them to panels with rusty brads in the manner of Tony Berlant, the LA artist who “paints” with scavenged tin. Wrapping around the edges and giving off a shimmering patina, they feel like folk art. Yankosky, for his part, doesn’t use this labor-intensive method to produce recognizable or even abstract imagery; he places snippets (metric and U.S) in horizontal bands to form dense, monochromatic fields that read as streams of seemingly meaningless data moving in different directions.  Still, you don't have to look or think too hard to grasp the point.  The incisions that demark each unit of measure, the grey-black-rusty tones of the metal and the jarring shifts in the size of the numbers combine to light up the complex psychology of measurement: the shifting criteria by which all of us judge ourselves and others.   
In the past, Yankosky's used only squares and rectangles as the basis for his compositions.  Here, for the first time, he builds on figure-shaped supports, a jigsaw puzzle-shaped form and a teardrop, adding fresh possibilities to a practice whose main virtue, apart from amazing craftsmanship, is the concentrated emotional energy behind it.  
John Bonick and Tim Yankosky @ Andrea Schwartz Gallery through July 11, 2014.  

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