Knife In The Water
These tropical landscapes are a manifestation of short-hand techniques for representing nature, designed to be mass produced and have a stable place in retail culture. But more significant and more personal is how these works expresses a yearning for innocence.
Grear Patterson’s work depicts a utopic reality, a perfect uncontaminated world, almost childishly innocent. Blood and Oxygen and Sailing Away fit perfectly with this aesthetic. Many things come to mind. Is he presenting or representing? Selecting or interpreting? Is it abstraction or realism? Or both? Are they naïve or self-aware? Perhaps these tropical scenes are a continuation of a past series. The bright palette of these works suggest a state of ecstasy, almost akin to a religious revelation. They are a constellation of soft patterns and shapes, as well as a general composition reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s paint by numbers paintings. The source material, images borrowed from Hawaiian vacation shirts and presented almost intact, express a minimal intervention by the artist. However, in more specific terms, it recalls Warholian Pop, Duchampian Conceptual Art strategies, and Pictures-era appropriation (Sherrie Levine, Richard Prince, Jeff Koons). The conventional wisdom associated with these artists can be defined by the sense of distance one exercises when selecting ordinary things from everyday life-in other words symbols of popular culture-and labeling them art; Ultimately during this process an object becomes decontextualized, it’s established meaning and use are stripped, and it begins another life in art. In an ostensible manner, the subject might be disenfranchisement, even loneliness.
These works also have a strong relationship with American popular culture in as much as they long for real memories. This widely recognized paradise imagery suggests a dream for many families throughout North America; it is certainly part of the social imaginary related to leisure and ultimately success. As an individual who grew up in suburban America, it’s plausible that the selection of this material might have an autobiographical connotation for Patterson. As a reaction to all of the pressures and expectations that a young artist in the 21st century faces, the desire to simplify the world by making a painting engenders its own complex set of variables. Grear Patterson has created these beacons of innocence that offer him personal safety and comfort. These Idealized landscapes contain elements of purity and could evoke the innocence of a child. What might seem like nostalgia allows him to leave the complicated present and embrace a simple past-time of true happiness and invented memory. These paintings reside in the place between real things and invented things, it’s hard to distinguish between the two.