Los Angeles

Joe Goode

Rolf Nelson Gallery

This assembly of recent paintings states exactly what former displays of this artist’s work have stated. That isolation is a fact in our lives, and that it may contain an element of despair. Whereas the artist’s previous work expressed the same conception through use of large, textured, single-colored oils set as backdrop for a painted milk bottle, these works use a sketchy pencil drawing of a house implanted against a medium-sized, single colored, sometimes varied textured background encased in an aluminum frame.

The houses, which are sometimes trimmed in an outline corresponding to the house-shape, are so casually rendered, with such an uneventful, unclever, dim grey line that they assume an unobtrusive, noncommittal existence that is so aloof it becomes meaningful. The backgrounds use no other device but a single matte color and a relatively open space which acts as foil to the house image. The result is an amazing tension between the two esthetic components that is a clear, definite, uncluttered manifestation of Goode’s intention.

This clarity of intention is of course achieved through his striking economy of means. But Goode’s recent output also connotes several important factors that are particularly meaningful to contemporary esthetics. One is an art product created through a rejection of artistic devices. And the other is the ability of singular devices, used with talent and discretion, to produce powerful emotional responses. In these ways, Goode’s sensitivity lies in a thoroughly perfected sense of understatement. Lonely milk bottles and nostalgic old houses as images are devastatingly sentimental in themselves. But to pull these from the dregs of emotionality, to dignify perception by denying decades of art-forced illusions and art forced expressions, and to permit the viewer to participate with the artist through empathy rather than visual coercion seems an infinitely valuable accomplishment.

––Clair Wolfe