Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sum of the Parts: Juan Thorp’s Abstractions and the impression they had on me

        I was drawn to Juan Thorp’s art for several reasons. One, I’ve always been fascinated by abstract art. Two, I’ve always been one to say that it’s not the parts that matter but the whole thing. Three, I was completely wrong about reason two, and his artwork proved it to me.

         Mr. Thorp was born in Mexico in 1980 and now lives in Pomona, California. While most of his art is abstract (at least all I came across), I have a hard time adapting to this. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always considered abstract art to be shapes and lines made up of all kinds of colors that look pretty but don’t necessarily make immediate sense. Yet when I look at his paintings I see the parts and then I see a form Sure, the form I see isn’t necessarily anything recognizable, but nonetheless to me it’s a thing which is more than I can say for a lot of abstract art. It just seems to make sense, and for that I applaud him. 

         The picture above is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. The whole form appears to be some sort of motor. Sure, motor might be pushing it, but it’s the best I can do. This painting was part of an exhibit a couple of years ago entitled “Sum of the Parts”. (Unlike, my earlier post Chicano y qué?  I think this title is perfect). By glancing, at the parts one sees the “thing’s” individual components. There appears to be some kind of red bottle, some coiled piping, and what appears to be a water nozzle (bottom right side). Now all of these components all individually managed to catch my eye, but as the title suggests it’s the sum of the parts that’s important right? Yes. Or maybe not. You have to look at the big picture to see the “thing”.

        This pictorial duality makes his art that much more interesting. It’s like looking at the outline of a cube and being able to manipulate it mentally so that at one point you think you see the top and at other times you see the bottom. As far as this painting goes, it’s like seeing the parts at one point and then seeing their sum. 
Mini Gray Block

         Now some would argue, that it’s just a bunch of forms that he throws together so that they resemble something else, something bigger. I disagree. His paintings are more than that. They go beyond the parts and pieces. It’s the colors or the lack thereof. In some of his other works like “Mini Orange Block” or my personal favorite “Mini Gray Block” (both painted in 2007) it is more than the different shapes and lines that add up to make a block. It’s the use of colors or better-said use of color (singular) that makes the painting so pleasing to the eye. I find it fascinating that while the whole block is a whole made up different shades of a single color (orange and gray, respectively), his use of shade allows each individual piece to remain a separate component of the same block.

         While trying to figure out some mathematical formula for how so many pieces add up to make just one single final product, I found yet one more thing I loved about his art. A lot of it is painted in plywood. Why did I find this fascinating? Well it just added a little more significance to the title “Sum of the Parts”. It forced me to reconsider what it was I considered a component and what I considered the whole. Are the plywood and the paint each one component that add up to one painting? Or are the individual painted parts components of the whole “thing” that happens to be on plywood?

         The answer isn’t clear, but I highly recommend checking out a couple of his paintings on your own. Check out his personal site and see what you think.


No comments:

Post a Comment