David Pagel, L.A. Times: Jimi Gleason

Art Review: Jimi Gleason's 'Favrile' at Samuel Freeman Gallery

by David Pagel
L.A. Times
April 8, 2011

Jimi Gleason’s "Favrile" exhibition, 10 new paintings at Samuel Freeman Gallery, looks like nothing else out there.

Some, like “Air & Light” and “For a Marine,” resemble the impossible offspring of spider webs and sound waves, their sensual ripples producing pleasures that are hard to account for and harder to ignore. Others, such as “Bear Paw” and “Derived From Gongshi,” could be meteorites from galaxies whose colors and substances are more thrilling and vivid than any on Earth.

Still others, like “Calico Jack” and “Scholar’s Rock,” combine elements of both. These swirling fusions of liquid light bring you face to face with objects that seem to be too good to be good for you.

In Gleason’s deliciously unnatural abstractions, the devil is not in the details only because diabolical beauty spills so profusely from every nook and cranny.  His densely textured surfaces are a cornucopia of unimaginable delights.

The three paintings in the first gallery trace the path Gleason’s art has taken as it has moved from earthly beauty to otherworldly super-beauty.

“Center of Gravity,” from 2009, roots viewers before a horizon, the familiar format offsetting the painting’s hyper-synthetic palette. “Blue-Violet,” from 2010, is a dazzling extravaganza of interwoven rainbows, its shifting colors recalling sunsets and sunrises piled atop one another. And “White Light,” from 2011, looks like a glistening chunk of the Beyond, somehow brought back to Earth and polished up by a jeweler whose love for rough edges is matched by his fascination with blinding brightness.

Gleason’s new paintings make his old ones — and lots of other artists’ works — look old-fashioned, tasteful and safe. That’s the cost of art that ravishes: It kills off its precedents by making their pleasures seem diluted.

— David Pagel

(Samuel Freeman Gallery, 2525 Michigan Ave., Bergamot Station, Santa Monica (310) 449-1479, through April 16. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.samuelfreeman.com)

Images: Top: Jimi Gleason's "White Light." Bottom, "Electric Ladyland." Credit for both: Samuel Freeman Gallery