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Philip Iverson

Lonsdale Gallery, Toronto March 9 - April 15

Painting, and of all painting, Expressionist painting, has been a prime object of criticism of post- modernists, who have earnestly claimed as their own the simple truism that art is but a representation, not a mirroring of the artist’s emotive intent. Philip Iverson’s recent Expressionist paintings on wood and works on paper exemplify that this attack is not only obvious but also unnecessary, for he and other adept Expressionists have never claimed that their work equates with emotional truth. “I work,” Iverson aptly observes, “both in a state of intellect and of impulse.” Therefore, he should not be maligned for making retrograde paintings, since the justification that would position his paintings as such is unfounded. Instead, it should simply be determined if his are good paintings. And they are.

Iverson is prolific, with twenty-eight works exhibited here, some as large as 228.6 x 152.4 cm. This output, as well as the rapid spontaneity of squiggly lines and squishy paint patches, shows him to be an intuitive painter who is, indeed, in the best sense of the word, impulsive. Where this quality shines is, with one notable exception, in his large-scale works, where the sweeping gestures that define his art are given space to roam free. One Foot In/One Foot Out (1999), for example, offers a grandiose scale of 2.3 x 2.7 m. A starry, outer-space backdrop circumscribes a planetary shape in cross section. Inside is a cornucopia of imagery, abstract form, expressively rendered flowers, and in keeping with the title, feet, with one stepping out into space. Size here does undoubtedly count, as the notion of contemplating the universe in relation to these small body parts works to great symbolic effect. What marks the large paintings as memorable is the splendid virtuosity of paint handling, the whirls of paint and the rapid electric line.

While these large works certainly made for a solid show, the one piece outstanding as most jarringly original was not one of them. After the Storm (1999), a 104 x 127 cm. ink and charcoal-on-paper work, differs by way of this medium from all but one other work in the show. The charcoal line, even more dramatic than the line in his paintings, carries a nervous high energy that effectively contrasts black patches, with drips of ink serving in inter mediary fashion between the two extremes. So perfect is the balance, the ensuing sense of completeness utterly satisfies.

Philip Iverson continues to demonstrate that he is an artist worthy of more attention. He is an artist who succeeds for his ability to juggle emotional polarities, not to mention the often opposing worlds of intuitive and intellectual inspiration.

— Earl Miller

Philip lverson, Nagano, 1999, oil on wood, 35.6 x 43.2 cm. Photo courtesy Lonsdale Gallery.




copyright 2005, Philip Iverson Studios. All rights reserved.


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