John Newsom is a mid-career painter in full power. Beneath his thick and sensuous painted renderings of flora and fauna, is a grappling with the giants of abstraction. In Newsom’s 2015 catalog of work from the past 10 years to the present exhibition, critic Barry Schwabsky writes in his essay, “what keeps ‘strong painting’ from becoming merely muscle bound – is Newsom’s secret weapon: the discipline that comes from considering himself, not a painter of images, but rather an abstractionist … to appreciate his paintings is … to engage with their surfaces of purely sensual incident.”
Most importantly, Newsom has honed his own mark-making language, a push and pull of soft and fierce, beautiful and menacing, under-drawing and thick overlays. He has developed a personal vocabulary that incorporates dichotomies, that strikes harmonious balances between contradictory forces. In his most ambitious painting to date, a 9 x 15 foot black and white oil painting of a Bengal tiger, Newsom’s work rests between heaven and hell: the animal is ethereal, omnipotent, terrifying, and lovable. The soft chiaroscuro is poised against the grittiness of thick passages of paint. This is not a work of realism; it stands powerfully as a symbol for moments that are life-affirming.
John Newsom (b. 1970, Hutchinson, Kansas), received his MFA from New York University in 1994. Concurrent to this solo show at MARC STRAUS is a 10 year survey at MANA Contemporary in Jersey City, NJ. Other solo presentations include: Richard Massey Foundation, New York 2011-2012; Patrick Painter Inc., Los Angeles, 2011; Lattuada Gallery, Milan, 2009. His work has been included in many group exhibits including the Nevada Museum of Art, 2014; WhiteBox, New York, EXIT ART, and The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill, NY, 2011. His work is in numerous collections including the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY, New York; and the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven John Newsom is represented by MARC STRAUS, NY, and Patrick Painter, L.A.