By putting his paintings under glass, Francis Bacon makes the audience complicit in his squalid narratives—when a naked man vomits in the sink, the viewer’s reflection hovers just over his shoulder. Gordon Terry freeze-dries this conceit by exchanging emotional content (along with canvas, brush, and figure/ground relationships) for technical wizardry that bonds isolated abstract blobs to mirror-like slabs of black acrylic. These eight-foot-wide works read like enlarged grids of alien microbes laid out on a sterile tray, revealing influences that, according to the artist, include Aleister Crowley’s occultism and Heavy Metal‘s sci-fi comics. Terry strips painting to pure sensation: Pancakes of intense pigments adulterated with their complements become divided cells of blurry color; spurts of paint twist into candy-striped French braids flung across the polished surfaces. The stark white background of They Have Existed at Least in Some Way, Hidden From Comprehension offers an homage to Pollock, a tangle of black splatters exerting a gravitational pull that rends the membranes of the surrounding amoebas. In other pieces, Terry dispenses with grounds altogether, employing clear plastic sheets and translucent stretchers to suspend psychedelic flows of marbled color in midair—an acrylic alchemist serving a no-knock warrant on the doors of perception.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 8, 2005