Works from Northern California artists Daniel Phill and Terry Thompson at first seem a disparate pairing. Thompson renders neon signage while Phill studies flora employing a gestural technique that nearly obscures the subject altogether. The former paintings are calculated and controlled, the latter are as organic as the plant life depicted. But both paint their worlds through a veil of ambiguity. The works contemplate the state of nature as it persists in the man made and natural environments. Thompson’s paintings are titled “Signs of Life,” a pun that alerts us to the activity that underlies the intricate typography, massive steel frames, large rivets, and neon tubing that announce “no vacancy” for local motels, promote small town burger joints, and tower above used car lots. While the signs are rendered representationally, Thompson aggressively crops them so that we remain uncertain as to what the sign announces.
Phill titles his work “Flourish,” a clear enough hint that the subject is equally balanced between the flora depicted and the dramatically gestural brushwork by which it is implied. The picture plane of these paintings becomes obscured as it is covered with layers of pigment and varnish that enliven the canvases. They initially have a flattened appearance, but that deepens as we gaze.
Main Image: “Palm Cafe” 2011 oil on canvas, 40″ x 60″ Image Courtesy of Terry Thompson