Sunday, August 13, 2017

Gertjejansen's "Faith & Reason" at Callan

In 1904, the great French cinema pioneer, Georges Méliès, released his fantastic silent film classic, The Impossible Voyage, about a farcically misguided scientific expedition to the sun. Although an amazing innovator himself, Méliès portrayed science as a disorienting force that always took people back to the same old human foibles in a new form. Doyle Gertjejansen's fantastical abstract paintings in this Faith & Reason show express no pointed opinions, but they do in some ways reflect the disorientation posed by technological advances happening at a faster pace than most people can possibly assimilate. What we see suggests a floating world where bits and pieces of the planet we inhabit seem to levitate and share space with the marks and brush strokes that have traditionally been used to depict what we see around us. That slippery relationship between the real world and the techniques people have used to depict it is the implicit underlying subject of this whimsical painterly investigation.  
Petroglyph 2, left, is emblematic for the way it recalls his longtime obsession with continental topography via its suggestions of flinty mountain ranges, verdant forests and dark crimson lava flows punctuated with fat, gloopy brush strokes, as if a dissatisfied creator god had decided to paint over parts of a newly minted planet. In Aztec, above left, those dense physical structures seem to have been distilled into a floating realm of cryptic symbols that resonate the ominous incantations of long dead languages – but the title piece, Faith and Reason 2, top, is as buoyant as a Latin jazz riff where dense clusters of blue notes and hot brassy jazz stanzas contrapuntally defined by free-form percussive undulations. Gertjejansen's emphasis on basic mark making harks to the origins of our long, strange trip into an ever more elaborate mass-mediated mirror maze of endless electronically reproduced imagery where digital technology and virtual reality are really just the latest, most turbocharged examples of humanity's long history of messing with stuff that ends up messing with our own heads in the process.  ~Bookhardt / Doyle Gertjejansen: Faith & Reason II, Through Sept. 20th, Callan Contemporary, 518 Julia St., 525-0518;