TOM JUDD | Altered States
Nov 5 – Dec 31, 2021
Robischon Gallery is pleased to present five concurrent solo exhibitions featuring artists Paco Pomet (Granada, Spain), Walter Robinson (Santa Fe, NM), Tom Judd (Philadelphia, PA), Gary Emrich (Denver, CO), and Terry Maker (Louisville, CO). The painting, sculpture, mixed media and video installation works on view address a range of complex historical issues, as well as reflect the cultural relationships and challenging conditions present in the contemporary world. Alluding to a variety of weighty themes, from societal hierarchies to the environment, and handled in an uncommon, unexpected manner by the five artists on view, the exhibitions offer an engaging look at America’s past and present. Painters Pomet and Judd, along with video artist Emrich, take full artistic license with photographic or filmic references of the past, while sculptors Robinson and Maker carve and cast larger-than-life provocative narrative works. The distinctive artworks on view vary and interconnect through imagery that is intentionally potent, surreal, poetic and absurd, while respectfully inviting the viewer to interpret and fully participate in a cultural dialogue that is both personal and ever-changing.
With his fourth Robischon Gallery solo exhibition Tom Judd presents “Altered States,” an exhibition of new works exemplifying the artist’s distilled approach of using soft-focused, vintage photographic imagery in concert with painted swaths of unexpected color and found pattern. Judd’s collagist sensibility and highly abstracted point of view create a poetic visual language that is both intimate and often familial. The artist’s improvisational mode of building surfaces with matte pigments of pink, blue and green, overtly brushed or intentionally dripped, and layered alongside crimped and patched paper elements, allows the viewer to enter the historical imagery from a tactile stance. Collaged colorful additions of ornate or geometric vintage wallpaper are in dramatic contrast as well to the grayscale portraits presented. Judd’s signature assemblage approach provides an opportunity to juxtapose different media furthering the conceptual in a manner that invites memory and a feeling of having pieced together fragments of a dream or a vision of life long ago. While a spectrum of American life captured in the early days of photography is made visible and then altered by the artist’s insertion of color and texture, the opportunity for personal narratives is made complete by each viewer’s imagination. The varied selected images of families, friends and solitary individuals found by the artist appear to have emerged from commonplace photo albums and in this way, have the aura of the everyman or woman – heroic in their quiet ordinariness. Seen through Judd’s lens, the familial figures emerge from the mists of time; some animated, some wistful, and some going about their daily mode. With the current realities of the pandemic, most Americans long for the life that came before; and while it may also be true that some of the individuals photographed might have been directly impacted by the previous plague of the last century, this notion only adds to a kind of familiarity. The work entitled She by the Sea, with its soft green brushwork and contemplative female subject, satisfies a yearning for simpler halcyon days by the ocean as the world strives to return to normal.
In “Altered States” Judd continues to expand upon his subjects’ environments to reveal picturesque scenes of open shorelines, languid rivers, vast lakes and mountain views, enhanced or changed by applied washes of monochromatic color. In unexpected relationship, signs of industry emerge, with a lone early locomotive making its way through a small town. The main group of portraits in the exhibition is flanked by images also seemingly unexpected, referencing an even earlier period of ancestry. The work entitled Historic Figure relies on a photograph of a painted portrait of an early 19thC man of means located in the center of the panel. Judd has obscured the image from below his subject’s lace-wrapped neck with a bold band of golden, ornately patterned wallpaper, as an anachronistic scene is revealed in the background of a car hurling along a shoreline just behind the figure’s delicately rendered head. It’s an entanglement of eras, as Judd allows the imagery from one period to communicate with another. The flocked wallpaper element returns in the series, this time to cover the bottom half of a haunting image depicting a classical female figure out of marble with her hand positioned near her ear as if listening to something off in the distance. Entitled The Blind Merchant’s Wife, the artwork is connected in part to a Chaucerian reference. Yet with Judd’s poetic collagist sensibility of interwoven images of different eras and patterns, ultimately all of the artist’s works are enveloped in abstraction, inviting free associations and unexpected relationships within his unique compositions. Judd’s surprising, disruptive and engaging visual language is in service and pursuit of human connection. Each improvisational mark is a kind of wake up, and each seemingly incongruous image or pattern is a bridge from the past to the present day. The generosity and aliveness of Tom Judd’s vocabulary provides a path to investigate the nature of culture, while the quietude that exists in “Altered States” opens the door to really see.
Tom Judd studied at the University of Utah and has a B.F.A. from Philadelphia College of Art. His work is in the permanent collections of Philadelphia Museum of Art, Birmingham Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and numerous corporate collections both in the US and abroad. He has shown at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Art, Salt Lake Art Center UT, Cornell Museum of Fine Art, FL, La Salle University Art Museum and others. Judd has received a prestigious Pollack Krasner Grant and has had fellowships at Tandem Press, Millay Colony, NY and MacDowell Colony, NH. His paintings, chalk-drawing installations and site-specific works have been shown in a wide variety of sites including university galleries and art centers across the US. Judd’s large-scale, mural project at SEPTA 5th Street Independence Hall Station in Philadelphia, PA was recently installed.