James Verbicky’s Tastefully Provocative Media Paintings at Joanne Artman Gallery

Many artists will admit to abstract pop cultural influences, but multimedia artist James Verbicky forges his pieces directly from the materials of this world of glamor and advertising. These “media paintings,” as he calls them, are geometrically composed pastiches of ads, most of which are sourced from foreign magazines that the artist collects in France. He recycles lines of text and graphics to create chaotic, but minimalist, works that are tasteful meditations on commercial imagery. 

Verbicky makes use of a linear grid for his paintings, which tend to either evoke a horizontal pattern or revolve around one particular focal point. The exhibition “Divisionaire,”currently on view at Joanne Artman Gallery, highlights the full spectrum of these works, which each use different means of composition to achieve the same ends. Divisionaire 4, 2014 shows a vintage Vogue magazine cover featuring a classic female fashion icon, intermingled with a strangely eroticized space-age female subject. All of these features are punctuated by symmetrical spectral starbursts that emanate from beneath the figure.

In another work, Force Bloom 15, Verbicky introduces us to a meticulously aligned orb seemingly composed from the cultural detritus of old advertising and fashion imagery. To varying degrees of subtlety, each of the works in this exhibition reveals the often fickle ephemerality of advertising and how the abstractions of consumerism can fade from popular consciousness as quickly as they enter it. He also reveals the beauty that these images can have when they are cut up and divorced from their original context. In rearranging commercial objects into visually intriguing compositions, Verbicky reminds us of the power of appropriation and the artist’s potential to create compelling works influenced by mass culture.  

Charlie Ambler

“Divisionare” New Works by James Verbicky is on view at Joanne Artman Gallery, Jul. 1st – Aug. 31st, 2014.

Follow Joanne Artman Gallery on Artsy.

Share article