Santa Barbara

Wesley Johnson

Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Johnson, a young Ojai ar­tist, exhibits twelve recent paintings which show a concern for color and action. Luckily, he has a natural feeling for paint and color, and the paintings come off. They are out-of-doors gay Ojai warm, and pleasing, but seem to be too much on the surface. There is a ten­dency to paint the same picture in dif­ferent colors and in different paint qualities. “Spring 2,” for example, is “Spring 1” in more impasto, heavier lines, less wash areas and more pastel colors; “Winter Growth” is the same pic­ture in greens and blues. There is a compositional device which probably leads to this sameness. It is a large opening form, off-centered to the right, stabilized by a subtle horizontal near the top and another somewhat below the center. The two strongest paintings are the smallest and the largest. One a big blast in hot colors, the other a subtle structural statement in cool colors. All the paintings have a potential for power that seems weakened by a characteristic sensuality for sensuality’s sake. The large picture, “Dark Garden,” works in dark and light as well as color, while “Flowers for Francis” is fully realized.

Jorgen Hansen