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John Belingheri
Andrea Schwartz Gallery, San Francisco, California
Recommendation by DeWitt Cheng

John Belingeri, “Forged,” mixed media and oil on canvas, 58 x 58”. Courtesy of Andrea Schwartz Gallery, San Francisco, California

Through November 14, 2019

Forthright abstract painters can seem like anomalies: not quite throwbacks, but an acquired taste to those expecting sociopolitical virtue-signaling. “I don't think before I paint,” writes John Belingheri, with the confidence of those old-white-male Abstract Expressionists currently out of demographic fashion. His new show, entitled “Fixation,” demonstrates that painting needs no program to attract our gaze and make the world anew again from nothing but impulse, imagination and constant adjustment and revision. Belingheri: “I like to see artists’ work without knowing anything about them. I like to get the information from the painting … It’s sort of like going to church. I want an ‘It’ to appear.”

Belingheri’s paintings pair visual energy with ambiguous form. These matrices of discs and vectors, suggestive of molecular models, schematic maps, mandalas, game boards, flow charts and diagrams, inhabit an indeterminate pictorial space, with exquisite craquelure textures connoting time and change. In the artist’s creative process, mark-making via screenprinting and painting alternates with erasure and deletion. Their rich textures and subtle color harmonies are by-products of the search for synthesis. “I can’t get this [abraded, weathered paint surface] intentionally, I get this worn surface ... only because I’m unhappy with something and keep working on it. If I intentionally said I’m going to get that worn surface, it wouldn’t happen.”

The ten large oil/mixed-media works on canvas and paper in “Fixation” may suggest, with their networks or lattices enveloped by painterly atmosphere, the shimmering early works of Philip Guston (“Cross Talk,” “Mirage,” ”Forged”) or the calligraphic “white writing” of Mark Tobey (“Tugging,” Inside/Out”). If the real-world connotations are various and indeterminate, the visual presence, the ’it,’ emanating from these pictures of nothing and everything is powerful and compelling. The paintings represent many things, not just one; these multivalent microcosms function as aesthetically alluring vehicles for contemplation and meditation.

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