San Francisco

Jim Barsness

Susan Cummins Gallery

For several years, Jim Barsness has been perfecting the idiosyncratic combination of materials and techniques from which he generates the large, complex drawings that are a major part of his work. With a blue ballpoint pen, he renders gracefully stylized, sometimes cartoony figures on a background of found material (maps, comics, pages from books), which is then collaged onto a canvas support. In the past, the overall mood of these scenes—colored at least in part by the mellow gloom of the bruised-looking palimpsest that acts as a backdrop—has been benign, if sometimes a little loony. The printed surface of text and image, still visible through the light touches of paint Barsness adds to define the elements of his compositions, has often suggested the multiple voices of a kind of dreamy reverie.

When an artist’s work changes abruptly in some way, the experience of this shift in direction

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