Since the late 1970s, New Orleans artist Jim Richard has been making paintings, drawings, and collages in which art-stuffed modernist interiors melt into multihued graphic fields. Devoid of inhabitants, his signature claustrophobic spaces are visual essays on taste and influence, composed as if with maximum disorientation in mind.
The expressive mode of painting taken by Wayne Gonzales in Forest, the large-scale achromatic acrylic on canvas painting now at Arthur Roger Gallery, parallels the movement of matter and the painter/viewer in his characteristic economic and gestural strokes. As in his paintings of crowds, his marks beg not only the kinesthetic response of the viewer, but also a response in actual spatial depth. As the marks lay flat on the surface, they invite close inspection of their abstractness and simplicity, and distanced observation to marvel at the phenomenon of their gestalt, melding into legible representation.
IMPLICIT IN RICHARD’S painting is a revived perception of the decorative function of art. His pictures declare the power of decoration to concentrate sensuous experience and, thus, to grip the viewer. With a system of rhythms and carefully sited disjunctions — and, of course, his piquant sense of color, Richard makes delight unavoidable.
Jim Richard’s ninth exhibition at Arthur Roger Gallery brings together four of his former students—Cheryl Donegan, Amy Feldman, Wayne Gonzales, and Lisa Sanditz—to share the gallery space with him. It has the collegial feeling of a school group project, with the artists putting in their own individual contributions, but this is one where the teacher joins in too.
For most of his career, Jim Richard’s paintings amounted to “art about art,” only instead of art history, they suggested settings for short stories where the artworks themselves were the protagonists. These new works are similar but they also allude to the way digital technology now makes everything in the world seem more accessible yet somehow less real, as elusive as pixels on a computer screen.