The William Havu Gallery presents a solo exhibition by renowned painter, John Gibson. Presented concurrently in the main gallery will be new paintings by Laramie, WY based painter Clay Johnson. On the mezzanine will be new work by Santa Fe, NM artist, Jeff Kahm.
John Gibson is a native of Massachusetts, born in Boston in 1958. He attended the Rhode Island School of design (where he earned a BFA in 1980), before earning his post-graduate degree from the prestigious master’s program at Yale. Gibson had his first one-man show at the University of Massachusetts in 1984, and he began showing in group exhibitions in the Boston and New York areas in the late 1980s. In the early 1990s Gibson’s paintings began to focus on pyramidal compositions of spheres resembling children’s playground balls, decorated in the manner of colorful soccer balls. Executed in oil on wooden panel, these pieces began to attract generous critical praise for Gibson from the pages of the Boston Globe, the Partisan Review, and the New Yorker, among others. Gibson’s paintings are filled with subtle yet provocative disjunctions, which challenge the viewer’s initial perceptions of the pieces. While these images would seem at first to be fairly simple atmospheric, realistic renderings of colorful balls, a closer examination will reveal that the surfaces of Gibson’s paintings are deeply scored by the artist in geometric patterns that sometimes conform to, and in other instances defy, the outlines of the spheres rendered in paint. An invisible substructure is suggested in these incisions, which also serve to reinforce the physicality of the painting. Some pieces also include incised and/or painted suggestions of shadowy architectural spaces (arches, hallways, shallow niches) in which the balls are placed. The scale of the objects rendered is ultimately unclear: the balls could be of the large, inflatable type, but they alternatively suggest the density of much smaller decorated wooden croquet balls (a disjunction heightened by the scale of the paintings, which range from larger-than-life to miniatures of only 10 by 6 inches or less). Additionally, the multiple-ball, open-pyramid arrangements depicted in Gibson’s paintings are impossible structures, suggesting that however realistically they may be rendered, they are in fact constructs of the artist’s imagination, straddling the divide between representation and geometric abstraction. John Gibson’s work is currently to be found in numerous corporate and public collections around the country, including those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, University of Massachusetts, the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the New York Public Library.
Clay Johnson was born and raised in Durham, NC, where he studied art and art history at Duke University, receiving a B.A. degree in 1985. He then worked for several years as assistant to painter Robert Natkin in Connecticut and New York City.
In 1998 he began exhibiting paintings from his first series of mature work, which was loosely grid-based, and was inspired by the paintings of Paul Klee, such as Ancient Sound. Since then Clay’s work has been exhibited widely at galleries across the country.
He began his current series of work shortly after relocating to Wyoming, and, while essentially non-objective, the paintings contain a sense of the wide open landscape of the American west.
Johnson is represented by Elins Eagles-Smith Gallery in San Francisco, William Havu Gallery in Denver, and George Billis Gallery in New York and Los Angeles.
Jeff Kahm of Plains Cree and French/Irish descent was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in 1990 to study painting and photography and soon after was awarded a painting scholarship to attend the Kansas City Art Institute earning a BFA in 1994. He continued graduate studies at the University of Alberta earning an MFA in 1997.
In 2002, Jeff returned to New Mexico, a land that he has grown to love and where he now calls home. He became a permanent resident in 2003 and soon began teaching at the Institute of American Indian Arts as a visiting faculty member. Today he is an associate professor at IAIA where he teaches studio art courses at the intermediate and advanced levels.
His landmark exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico (2012), Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art in Winnipeg, Manitoba (2013) and Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art in Santa Fe (2016) highlighted his most recent work – a striking series of small works on paper and panels and an impressive collection of large scale paintings on canvas – work he describes as ‘rooted in Indigenous abstraction and Modernist aesthetics’. His work continues to reach a wider audience through various invitational and group shows nationally and internationally.