new-york

John Clark

49th Parallel

If Hurson’s work has a deceptive appearance, seeming less ambitious than it really is, then something similar might be said of the paintings of John Clark. But the terms should be reversed. The paintings look ambitious, they are big, bright, confident in their painterliness; but they are extremely timid in conception.

At their best they are recordings of local detail—a doorframe, perhaps, or the silhouette of an old-fashioned factory standing against the sky. Local detail with a certain nostalgic blush to it, a sentimentality emphasized by the lush paint as much as by the schematic allusion to a newsboy barking out the evening’s headlines that crops up in several of the canvases. In fact, the work is full of allusions of one sort or another, mostly of the sort that is supposed to cue the viewer to understand that this is “important” art—references to Constructivist graphic design, for

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