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Editorial: Features
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Ed Moses and Larry Poons
William Turner Gallery, Santa Monica, California
Preview by Andy Brumer


Larry Poons, "Diamond Jim," 2011, acrylic on canvas, 76 1/2 x 102"

Continuing through July 19, 2014

Gallery owner and director Bill Turner came up with the idea of pairing Ed Moses and Larry Poons during a party three years ago at his Santa Monica gallery that celebrated Ed Moses’ eighty-fifth birthday, and which Poons attended. In a kind of visual moment of insight that mirrored Moses’ West and Poons’ East coast respective bases, Turner caught sight of each man standing at opposite sides of the gallery. He thought it would be interesting to show the works of these two iconic and iconoclastic post-generation Abstract Expressionist painters together. Turner, Poons and Moses would select the work for the exhibition in part via an intuitive process suggestive of improvisational jazz, with their eyes alert, as Moses told this writer during a recent studio visit, for compatible “coincidences.”    

Indeed, Moses has always relied on coincidence, chance, invention, unconventional methods and materials, and experimentation in the making his masterfully crafted and variously styled paintings. Now eighty-eight, Moses still dives daily into the practice of what he calls “discovering” new paintings just as he did more than fifty years ago as one of the Ferus Gallery’s original stable of artists. 
    
No doubt Moses’ new, adventurous, astonishingly vibrant and vigorous acrylic on canvas paintings in this show will captivate viewers' hearts and minds.
    
In “Moses 2,” for example the painter applies broad sweeps of moody and tropical reds, yellows and grayish blue acrylics with a paint roller onto canvases that he first wets with a garden hose. A receding and deep cavernous black background extends behind these parting robes or curtain-like images to seductively invite viewers into the painting’s universe.
    
More austere, though no less engaging, “Edward #2” presents a set of parallel oriented vertical bands, suggesting stalactites that vibrate with iridescent pinks, greens, and reddish purples amongst one almost solid black “pole” that feels quite purposely not out of place. Moses accents these columns with a stream of charred grey chevron shapes, which add rhythm and a hint of exoticism to the piece.

After changing from studying music as a young man to painting, Larry Poons, now 76, broke into New York art world prominence during the 1960’s, when his paintings of rhythmic patterns of circles and ovals on brightly colored backgrounds linked him with the Op Art movement. However, like Moses’, Poon’s protean nature and iconoclastic instinct soon found the artist pushing the boundaries of his painting. He began throwing, layering, plastering and sculpting his paint onto his canvases. These signature works, like the similar ones in this show, are visceral, emotional, excessive, opulent and earthy, and move very much in the opposite direction of his previously cool and heady retinal-based pieces.
    
In the large impastoed acrylic on canvas painting titled “Untitled,” an out-of-control Arcadian garden bursts with pastel colors. Characteristically filling the canvas’s entire surface, the painting seems driven by a Pollock-like energy that corrals chaos into order. Similarly, in “Forlorn Patrol” plastered-on globs of paint seem to rage on the canvas, until — and perhaps reverting back to the artist’s Op Art beginnings — animated, ghostly and slightly monstrous human figures as well a other phantasmagorical shapes begin to pattern themselves into perception.
    
Whether or not viewers feel Moses' and Poons’ paintings succeed or not in terms of cohabiting on the gallery walls seems ultimately unimportant. What matters is the opportunity this show affords to enjoy new work by two of today’s greatest living painters closely linked by the language of paint, who continue to work in studios separated by a continent.

Published courtesy of ArtSceneCal ©2014


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