Longtime followers of Curating Los Angeles will likely remember my previous posts about English painter John Tierney. Ever since first learning of the artist and his work in late 2011, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Tierney, meeting him during one of his regular visits to LA, and seeing his paintings in person when I attended a stylish exhibition of his work at the Paul Smith store on Melrose. I’ve also had the opportunity to watch his body of work grow over time as he periodically adds images to his web site.
Now I’m very excited to let you know about Tierney’s first solo exhibition in a Los Angeles art gallery. Consisting of 31 paintings, the show presents a range of work produced over a four-year period (2011 – 2014). Most of the paintings depict recognizable locations and buildings in Los Angeles, with the remainder picturing scenes in Las Vegas, New York, and Twentynine Palms. You can see photographs of these paintings here.
So why am I so enamored of Tierney’s work? For one thing, like me, he is captivated by Los Angeles and the desert landscape in and around Joshua Tree National Park. Equally as important is the way he approaches his subjects. Tierney is a keen observer of the world around him and is drawn to small details of a scene that he deftly translates to his canvas. For example, in the lower right hand corner of his painting titled This is Not Graffiti is It?, LA, Tierney has included a man working on a utility box. It’s easy to miss him at first glance, because his blue clothes blend in with the background, but I think he injects activity into the scene and makes the overall composition that much more compelling.
Finally, Tierney’s skillful use of color, his attraction to different architectural styles, his expert composition and his talent for depicting the unique light that illuminates southern California make his work feel at once familiar and new. It’s like he captures the essence of an old friend that I immediately recognize, while at the same time revealing some aspect of their personality that was previously hidden.
What: American Light 2 – Paintings by John Tierney
When: April 5th through May 1st
Where: Skidmore Contemporary Art, located at Bergamot Station 2525 Michigan Avenue, D-2 Santa Monica, California 90404