Matt Gonzalez reviews the exhibition Terry St. John, New Work at Dolby Chadwick Gallery, San Francisco, on view through August 30, 2014.
Matt Gonzalez writes: "One gets the impression that St. John paints the figure as if it is a plein air landscape, where the focus is trying to capture a particular moment in time. Light and shadow are crucial to the composition. But in fact, the unique light that is discernible in the oil paintings isn’t depicting a particular moment in time but an amalgamation of light that results from St. John’s studio practice. The models he uses hold a pose for hours and will sit over the course of weeks. When the model isn’t present, he’ll continue to work the canvas looking for a path to a completed composition. Under such conditions it is impossible to finish a painting in a single moment of lighting; what results is a patchwork of competing lighting and tonal elements. A cubist effect results because St. John doesn’t paint out all of the previous lighting sensibilities but rather adds new ones now represented by various blocks and triangles of color and shading. This method also allows for chance discoveries rather than staged renderings."