William Turner Gallery:
Peter Lodato and Eric Johnson
We are accustomed to sight as an experience of things coming into clearer focus the longer we look at them. Images seem fuzzy, we stare, maybe squint a bit, and they sharpen up. One of the special features of paintings by Peter Lodato is that they enact the opposite. The longer you look, the more they soften, hum, and expand like breath, until their contours dissolve from architectural lines into prismatic auras.
Like his contemporaries who came of age in the heady days of the California Light and Space movement, Lodato is interested in the mechanics of sight. Unlike many of them, he soon transferred this motif from the world of futuristic sculptural materials, to the stately world of paint on canvas. His conceptual leanings are infused with a personal affection for the related fascination with the nature of perception as was pursued by the late Impressionists, ancestors of the Light and Space artists. This manifests itself in material ways such as his painstaking paint-mixing, and in stylistic ways, such as the barely perceptible flurries of brushstrokes fluttering below Lodato’s smooth and meditative surfaces. It is this brush work which activates the rustling of his color fields, while the liminal slow-reveal of chromatic substrates along the edges massages the boundaries of the picture plane.
Though technically a concurrent solo show, the pairing of Lodato’s paintings with floor and wall sculptures by Eric Johnson is inspired. Johnson’s work is also about surface, and also about affecting, almost-magical details revealing themselves from within the surface, over time. His wood, resin, and pigment works derive more influence from Finish Fetish than Light and Space; but like Lodato, he made this grand tradition his own, in ways both personal and material.
His use of wood and a taste for variably high-polish and hand-worn surface qualities create illusions of lightness and monumentality, engineering and hand-crafting, object and abstraction. Forms which resemble blades, propellers, and vehicular components will offer the viewer, upon closer inspection, a wealth of traces of the artist’s hand, clues about materials, and evidence of the process of construction. As tactile as Lodato’s paintings are optical, their assertive and personable dimensionality anchors the entire experience of the exhibition in place, in the room, and in the body, as well as in the eyes and mind.
Peter Lodato, “Recent Works”; Eric Johnson, “Select Works,” July 15 – September 9, 2017 at William Turner Gallery, Bergamot Station Arts Center, 2525 Michigan Avenue, Suite E-1, Santa Monica, 90404, www.williamturnergallery.com