new-york

John Bowman

Lang & O'Hara Gallery

Painting on wooden doors, either singly or in pairs, John Bowman apparently finds inspiration in the grain itself. Through insubstantial applications of paint—sometimes just a series of dots—he conjures entire landscapes with a remarkable range of atmospheric qualities. He can do this because the surface itself serves as a portal; the eye travels both across and through these doors, and paint is the handle that opens them up.

But the real poetry in these “paintings”—and one uses the word cautiously, because at his best Bowman’s touch is very light—is the way the unpainted surface is allowed to take over. The painting is really only a point of departure—an invitation to get lost in the grain. In the simplest works, a line of painted dots suggests the random lights—of cars, street lamps, distant towns, or a numinous desert night. Skyscape and landscape—clouds above, ridges, plateaux, or a

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