John Gibson: New Works

Oct 5 - Dec 8, 2018

Santa Fe

For more Information:

Press Release

John Gibson: New Works

October 5 - December 8, 2018


Contact: Evan Feldman, Director

Phone: (505) 954-5738


Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10-5PM


The Gerald Peters Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new oil paintings and watercolors by John Gibson. Featuring his signature motif of brightly patterned spheres that loom in an illusion of light and space, the exhibition highlights Gibson’s recent involvement with watercolor. The results of Gibson’s exploration with watercolor are both fresh and provocative.
For over two decades, Gibson has been examining the illusion of spheres in space, either as a single ball resting on a receding plane, or as groups in imaginative still-life settings that appear convincing at first and yet ultimately defy gravity and logic. A masterful magician and a juggler in paint, Gibson conjures a luminous atmosphere and deploys the colorful toys of children in a sophisticated subversion of the eye and mind. 
In their geometric precision and optical fantasy, Gibson’s compositions contain echoes of the early experiments of Paolo Uccello and Piero della Francesca, the first Renaissance masters of light and perspective illusion. Most of his spheres are painted within a square format. But by adding a few inches to the vertical dimension, Gibson causes the spheres to appear rounder and more three-dimensional. They become sculptural elements that seem to turn as you view them.
Gibson’s oil paintings are usually on wood panels, which he sands heavily and scores along the design patterns to add dimensionality. His palette ranges from deep, warm hues to soft, icy tones. The watercolors are composed of rich, layered washes of color which form atmospheric backgrounds for his smooth and glossy subjects.
In a recent statement Gibson notes the special challenges of technique and performance in the process: “I paint balls because they are the most simple and fundamentally different thing from the flat surface of a painting that I can tink of. I like that elegant opposition of forces. Every day I try to wring a 'real' ball out of a flat surface and every day I can't quite do it. In the good paintings there is some residue of that effort and in the best paintings there is a lot. In many ways then the subject of these paintings - at least for me - is just that residue: a wish for something that cannot be had; a version of a ball overlaid with desire."



Artist Information

John Gibson is a native of Massachusetts, born in Boston in 1958. He attended the Rhode Island School of design (where he earned a BFA in 1980), before earning his post-graduate degree from the prestigious master’s program at Yale. Gibson had his first one-man show at the University of Massachusetts in 1984, and he began showing in group exhibitions in the Boston and New York areas in the late 1980s. In the early 1990s Gibson’s paintings began to focus on pyramidal compositions of spheres resembling children’s playground balls, decorated in the manner of colorful soccer balls. Executed in oil on wooden panel, these pieces began to attract generous critical praise for Gibson from the pages of the Boston Globe, the Partisan Review, and the New Yorker, among others. Gibson’s paintings are filled with subtle yet provocative disjunctions, which challenge the viewer’s initial perceptions of the pieces. While these images would seem at first to be fairly simple atmospheric, realistic renderings of colorful balls, a closer examination will reveal that the surfaces of Gibson’s paintings are deeply scored by the artist in geometric patterns that sometimes conform to, and in other instances defy, the outlines of the spheres rendered in paint. An invisible substructure is suggested in these incisions, which also serve to reinforce the physicality of the painting. Some pieces also include incised and/or painted suggestions of shadowy architectural spaces (arches, hallways, shallow niches) in which the balls are placed. The scale of the objects rendered is ultimately unclear: the balls could be of the large, inflatable type, but they alternatively suggest the density of much smaller decorated wooden croquet balls (a disjunction heightened by the scale of the paintings, which range from larger-than-life to miniatures of only 10 by 6 inches or less). Additionally, the multiple-ball, open-pyramid arrangements depicted in Gibson’s paintings are impossible structures, suggesting that however realistically they may be rendered, they are in fact constructs of the artist’s imagination, straddling the divide between representation and geometric abstraction. John Gibson’s work is currently to be found in numerous corporate and public collections around the country, including those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, University of Massachusetts, the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the New York Public Library.