New York

Colin Thomson

Lieberman & Saul Gallery

In Colin Thomson’s intensely exuberant painterly world, the elegance and austerity of ’50s high abstraction confronts the gaudy colors and whimsical shapes of its old arch-rivals, design and decor. What, Thomson seems to ask, can serious painting do with Avocado, Tangerine, and Harvest Gold?

Thomson’s color schemes (like his forms) are consistent from painting to painting, and their cumulative effect is dazzling, like stepping off a plane into bright Florida sunshine. His shapes—a large private vocabulary of forms and references—seem almost hieroglyphic. While they are not easily deciphered, one can occasionally detect references to children’s toys—an Indian headdress, a jack, Chinese checkers—or shapes taken from the funnies, such as a balloon caption, or a cartoonish splash.

These paintings appear to be informed by a meditation on the vagaries of style—what makes it into the high-art canon

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