Review: Complexity takes vivid form in Terry Winters’ paintings

Los Angeles Times Art Critic

Several blindingly beautiful new oil paintings on linen by New York artist Terry Winters are included in an uneven show of recent work at Matthew Marks Gallery. Collectively titled “patterns in a chromatic field” – its lowercase spelling a hint of the best works’ luxurious visual intimacy – the dozen paintings generate form in complex ways.

Take No. 14 in the series, an exquisite explosion of red-orange and yellow color-spots within an ecstatic aura of blue-green rays. It’s like a landscape that dissolves after looking into the sun too long on a buzzing summer day.

The swirling spots recall the spiral pattern of a sunflower’s seeds, which in this chromatically brilliant case leads inevitably to Van Gogh. Behind the nominal blossom, an array of small, interlocking organic shapes resides somewhere between a garden’s stone wall, abstract memories of flagstones frequently employed in paintings by Jasper Johns and Sam Francis’ biomorphic pools of runny abstract color.


Then again, the whole thing looks suspiciously like a view through a high-powered quantum microscope. Is this picture inspired by the orbital structure of an excited hydrogen atom?

Most of Winters’ paintings are relatively compact, at 40-by-32 inches. Those dimensions roughly double in three canvases, two of which get away from him. Their thin, map-like mediation between abstract and figurative forms is pedestrian.

The third, however, stands up and sings. “Crimson Lake” is a hot-pink web of translucent, perforated cellular shapes strewn with violet dots edged in brackish blue. You half expect a miraculous life form to come crawling out of the generative sea of oil paint.

Matthew Marks Gallery, 1062 N. Orange Grove Ave., West Hollywood, (323) 654-1830, through June 21. Closed Sun. and Mon.