Monday, March 12, 2012

Coloring Clouds

Revelation: Major Paintings by Jules Olitski at the Museum of Fine Art Houston is a small but well researched exhibition about the work of Jules Olitski, the painter, omitting the sculptor and print maker, with more than thirty monumental canvases representing 50 years of his career.
Just across "King Tut", on the mezzanine, the paintings are inviting with several murals from the Color Field Painting period of the artist in the 60s, with "Patutski in Paradise", 1966, pink-violet to green-yellow or "Exact Origins", 1966, yellow-green, pink-orange-violet, shimmering in the light. The thin, luminescent colors give a liquid texture to the canvas.

The stain paintings, influenced by Frankenthaler are like watercolors, dripping on the canvas, smudging with a poetic touch.
Each period of the artist 's work is represented. The 60's with his thin, ethereal colors, The 70's with brown tones and thick impasto, going back to the heavy paintings from the 50's. The texture brings roughness to the canvas, a sculptural rendering. "Loosha Lone" 1970, "Third Indomitable" 1970s getting thicker during the action painting period like "Absalom Passage #10", 1973, ripples and waves. Some works look like a satellite view of the earth with canyon, mountains, valleys.
During the High Baroque period in the 80's, the artist attempted to recreate the chiaroscuro of Rembrandt in an abstract world. His paintings like "Of Darius" 1988, "Vive La France II" are like an explosion.
"Creation Flood", 1983, represents destruction and death.

The late paintings are orbs of different colors, abstract, a tormented glob, a world trying to be born, a magma of undiluted pigments, perhaps the world after death. The "Love and Disregard Series" are the last message of the artist.
From light and fluffy paintings like clouds on a Summer day to tormented works like rivers after a storm, the painter may have reached his goal:
"What I would like for my paintings is ...just a cloud of color that remains there transfixed."
Beyond this, the message stays superficial.

Photographs were not allowed.
Photographs MFAH's Website.

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