Jason Vass Gallery
Mark Dutcher: Another World
(April 22-June 3, 2017)
When you walk into Another World, Mark Dutcher’s recent exhibit of paintings at Jason Vass Gallery, his poetic renderings grab you. Large-scale abstract works beckon you to come closer. The reworking, scribbling and loose brushwork of the artist’s hand present his mysterious imagery, both recognizable and abstract, for contemplation.
Dutcher likes to draw with paint. His brushwork is not unlike Cy Twombly’s, but Dutcher’s imagery ranges widely, from geometric renderings to personal objects. His compositions vary in range from smaller works—which at times appear calmer and are perhaps more resolved—to larger, more complex paintings. Dutcher uses a simple visual element to contextualize his imagery: a loose, bordering line that frames each masterful presentation. His poetic pieces present an invitation to enter and to get lost inside.
While most of the images are painted in light colors, using a white ground from which the elements radiate, Paint the World Out is particularly intriguing for its darker, saturated palette. Beneath the grid of blues, reds and yellows lies a deep space full of lush greens, suggesting landscape and nature. Nothing in that landscape is recognizable in a representational way. It is cool and contemplative. This visceral experience takes the viewer to the edge of a metaphoric forest. Are we entering a dark and dangerous area, or are we to hide out there, as if in a sanctuary? The Modernist geometry of pattern that Dutcher presents is softened by a verdant garden within.
This is Dutcher’s second show with the gallery. In both exhibitions, the artist built long benches that allow viewers to sit and ponder the work. These seats are minimal in comparison to the images on the walls. Dutcher asks you to pause and reflect. Upon taking the time to focus on the work, it becomes apparent how the artist’s drawing with color, shape and form offers comfort and an opportunity to escape.