Good Children Gallery
4037 St. Claude Avenue
April 12–May 4, 2014
“Phantom Vibrations,” Brian Guidry’s current exhibition on view at Good Children Gallery, is a testament to the artist's masterful translation of our material world into abstract painting. Dramatically lit by spotlight, the four paintings in the main room of the gallery feel both seductive and menacing. They pull the viewer in for close inspection, while producing an oppositional urge to back away. Each of these positions offers its own reward in understanding the complexity of the works’ compositions and motivations.
The exhibition’s color palette is derived from the South Louisiana landscape—warm summer storms hovering over the bayou, foliage, flowers, and sugar cane. And despite Guidry’s use of basic forms, these paintings are reflections on complex relationships between human beings and the natural world that explore power, technology, and the struggle for balance. In The End, 2012, a large canvas is laden with triangles of varying dimensions in a combination of bright pinks, tangerine-like orange, neon yellow, and deep, mossy greens. Representative of Guidry’s meticulous color-making process for all his works, the pink is inspired by a blooming azalea, mixed alfresco alongside the plant and then reproduced in larger quantities in his studio. While the painting’s profound central form may bring to mind a blooming tropical flower, à la Georgia O’Keeffe, Guidry developed the painting as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster unfolded in Japan. Through this understanding, the once beautiful colors take on the ominous impression of leaking radiation. Gone is the mysterious allure, now transformed into a statement on the unknown rippling effects of this disaster on both people and the environment.
An application of egg whites and oil leaves the surface of The End, along with nearby Delta Dawn, 2013, cracked into tiny sections. The effect is reminiscent of Old Master paintings and makes the otherwise futuristic images appear like relics of a bygone era. It is as if they survived some cataclysmic event, perhaps even one of their own prediction. In contrast, the smooth surfaces of Phantom Vibrations and Oxizion, both 2014, shine dimly from an applied oil wash, slightly reflecting their spotlights. Up close, these smooth works read convincingly flat, however, as the viewer moves away, they begin to look three-dimensional. The rectangles of Oxizion, for example, become new planes and the kaleidoscopic regions are set in motion. What once was static seems to come to life, challenging the defining lines between uncertainty and absolute.