Power of Impasto

Joanne Artman Gallery
Oct 10, 2018 8:47PM

Stimulating both sight and touch, Ray Turner’s paintings explore the application and properties of oil paint, wax, and glass. Emphasizing the physicality of the mark making process, Turner breaks from the confines of traditional portraiture. Adding an aspect of three-dimensionality to his canvases, depth is created through visible strokes and swatches as he explores textureand spatial aesthetics.

Ray Turner, Detail Epicurious, Oil on Copper, 12” x 12”

Originating from the Italian word impasto, which translates, to ‘dough’ or ‘paste,’ this painting process is defined by the application of thick paint to the canvas. Employing impasto throughout his paintings, Turner invents original textures with grand presence and occupation of space.

Allowing for the play of light in a particular way, impasto lends additional control over the effect of highlights and shadows in a painting. Associating the visible applications of paint as a signature of the artist’s visual language, impasto pieces inspire spontaneity and create the illusion of detail where there is none. Creating viscous layers of paint on the surface of the canvas, impasto adds a three-dimensional, sculptural quality to a two-dimensional artwork.

Ray Turner, Details Kind Frenhofer, Oil on Canvas, 50” x 40”

Ray Turner, Details Kind Frenhofer, Oil on Canvas, 50” x 40”

Providing the minimum amount of visual information required to tell a story, the more abstracted portraits in Ray Turner’s current exhibition, Half Naked, practice both abbreviation and omission. Through suggestion of facial and anatomical features, Turner is able to utilize the properties of his medium to create images that capture a spectrum of emotional states. Reliant on Turner’s mastery of form, the representational qualities of his paintings reveal a range of human expression that prevails against his daring distortion and abstraction.

Convincingly capturing narratives unique to each painting, the physical presence of Turner’s impasto and its variant textures are done so successfully that one can imagine elements of the human face that aren’t present in his paintings. Contributing to the overall tactility of each surface, the coalescence of impasto with bold, decisive marks establishes distinct personalities of each figure.

Ray Turner, Detail Mary, Oil on Canvas, 50” x 40”

Stylistically consistent, Ray Turner’s gestural marks are traceable throughout his exhibition. However, he is able to differentiate his impasto and brushwork as he employs them differently within his series. In paintings such as Mary, Turner achieves an overall smoother texture than in his other paintings, while deliberately layering paint throughout to emphasize focal points within the figure. Sculpting planes, Ray Turner’s treatment of the oil medium defines the highpoints of the face while carving out darker shadows. Similar to Wayne Thiebaud’s use of the palette knife where he applies his paint as thickly as the frosting on his depicted cakes, Ray Turner’s use of impasto results in fully modeled figures.

Carrying a strong, physical statement, impasto is more than just a painting method. Due to its resounding depth and multisensory allure, impasto technique has the power to transform a painting from a surface to a living and breathing object.

Joanne Artman Gallery