Today’s post marks AFC’s second mention of West Coast art events in less than a week, which for a blog that focuses on New York City events is more than a little unusual. I have no decent explanation for this except that I am compelled to report on the extraordinarily talented – particularly when they happen to be good friends.
Jon Claytor: Life’s Little Soldiers
Harvey Levine Gallery
5797 W Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA
May 27 – July 1 2006
In 2002, Peter Goddard of the Toronto Star wrote glowingly of Jon Claytor’s paintings, “And there was Jon Claytor’s show at Ingram Gallery, where his stressed and scratched oil canvases seemed less and less finished the longer you looked. The Montreal painter is a genius at not seeming convincing”
Goddard gets it right though it’s not clear what he means by “unfinished” or what value “not seeming convincing” has. In an earlier review he says their “finished-unfinished” look has to do with the artists relationship to people, which is in part true, though equally vague. Removing the flourish from the piece what he means to say is that from a technical perspective Claytor’s paintings are made with a simple affinity for economy of paint – the rest is a facility with the poetic. The artist is his own genre. He is a contemporary minimalist baroque/realist, and I have seen no parallel to his ability in this regard. There is no separation between technique and subject, which makes his work extremely accessible. You would think that his paintings would lack mystery for this, but there is a certain awkwardness to his subjects and even his approach that isn’t always elegant. But this is the point – none of us are.
Despite the artists professed dislike for writing, I have posted his biography below as I think it is an excellent example of what these statements should be. Claytor himself provides the best window to understanding his work with these few words.
There are the places; San Francisco, Winnipeg, Fergus, Haliburton, Guelph, Toronto, Algonquin Park, Sharbot Lake, Sackville, Moncton, Halifax, Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal. Not all can be remembered, they blur together. Then there are the years. 1972, the year he was born. 1994, when he was married to singer songwriter Julie Doiron. Again 1994 when Benjamin was born, and Charlotte in 1997 and Rose in 2002. In between the years and the places were paintings and that is where the biography is really written.