Showstoppers | Jon R. Friedman

FRIEDMAN_OtterCreekThicket_W.jpgIn the just-released December issue of The Pastel Journal, you’ll meet Jon R. Friedman, an artistic “innovator” who works in a variety of media and styles, and uses a diverse arsenal of tools to communicate his creative vision.

Tonight, the Alan Klotz Gallery in New York City opens a new show of “Selected Works” by the artist with a reception from 6 to 8 pm. I was fascinated by gallery director Alan Klotz’s explanation of the show:

“It may surprise you to see a photography gallery having an exhibition
of paintings—it certainly surprised me after 34 years. But the desire
to show the work of Jon Friedman has been building for years, and I
decided the time was now. The easy thing to say would be that the work
is so photographic that the explanation for this departure lies in the
work’s similarity to photography. But, actually, it is the differences
between what Jon does and what photography does that is ultimately
what this show, and my desire to do it, is about. …

“The first impression is likely that there is a strong affinity between what Jon and many photographers whom I admire and show do. But the resemblance really does end there. The differences rest both on the surface and in the underlayers of paint that make up the material presence of the work. The different layers of Jon’s paintings work in very different ways. The underlayers are smooth and subtly shaded, giving us the assumption of mimesis, while the upper surface is far more textured and idiosyncratic, full of paint strokes, lustily applied. Precise decisions have been made about how the subject is presented in paint on the surface, yet the viewer always perceives this in terms of the original subject which retains its natural tactile intensity and aliveness. It’s as if Jon is knitting together the illusionistic depiction of the natural world with the material application of the paint to his surface. The experience is exciting, clearly familiar, but the intelligence and passion behind every stroke separate this work from pure optical verisimilitude.”

To view the exhibition—which runs through December 23—online, visit the gallery website. To read more about Friedman’s work and working process in pastel and mixed-media, check out the December issue of The Pastel Journal here.

[pictured above] Otter Creek Thicket (2008; oil on prepared paper, 12×15) by Jon R. Friedman

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