In his first Solo exhibit, Boston-based painter John Guthrie uses a careful consideration of color and the relationships between adjacent colors to create vibrating chromatic orchestrations of paint on canvas. Guthrie activates and develops the individual properties of neighboring colors to effectively combine an Op Art "retinal" effect with an Abstract Expressionistic resonance.
John Guthrie, Untitled (2002) 72 x 50 in. (L) and John Guthrie, Heliotropic (2002) 50 x 32 in. (R)
Guthrie directs paint in rivulets down the surface of a canvas in a specific area without total control over how straight it will drip. The process and the chromatic choices are exquisite, but trying to exactly place them between or beside a particular stripe is part luck and part determination. This indirect process is what allows Guthrie's work to possess an unusual amount of subtlety and nuance, adjectives not normally associated with "stripe paintings." Painted stripes usually imply a strict formula and rigid "hard edged" taping technique, but in pouring the paint Guthrie allows some chance and gravity to control a bit of of his placement. He builds up rows of these drips, inserting just the right ribbon of color to intensify or tone down an area, using colors side by side to create harmony and dissonance without mixing any colors on the canvas.
detail of surface ( actual size ) (R)
The group of work on exhibit at Green Street is the result of three years of experimentation with the pigments, surfaces and the proportions involved in creating the optical and rhythmic effects that underpin these ambitious works. Guthrie has moved the rich, undulating patterns from the background of his earlier figurative work into a role as both foreground and background in his newest work. His mastery of color is balanced by a range of emotive, visceral effects produced in each work. Guthrie requires a wide variety of results from his "system"; some pulsate, vibrating with electricity, others are meditative, relaxed by cool, delicious tones. The fundamentals of color theory that inform all forms of painting are invigorated by Guthrie's seemingly unlimited permutations that result from a prolific experimentation with those basic principles. --James Hull
John Guthrie's new work (L) and work from 1998 (R)