Colin Thomson | Unusual Characters
March 5 - July 26, 2020
A veteran of the New York art world, Colin Thomson observes in an interview with artist Jim Butler, “It’s a fascinating flushing process, things come in and things go out.” He’s referring to stylistic trends, the artistic landscape, and also literally the shifting geography of where artists live and work. In his second exhibition with High Noon Gallery entitled Unusual Characters, Thomson draws upon experiences both past and present with unfamiliar architecture and it’s interaction with the landscape, augmenting both painting and design principles to expand the language in his nontheistic approach to abstraction.
In these new works, Thomson betrays the viewer’s expectations of finding order in something precise and at a closer glance, also betrays the expectation of precision. The paintings are undeniably graphic at a point, but Thomson is more concerned with the application of paint than exactitude, allowing for painterly moments of scrubbing, scumbling, and washing, resulting in an ambiguous tension of familiarity/unfamiliarity creating a loop that cycles back onto itself— paint as both subject and system.
It’s within this ambiguity that Thomson’s panache as a painter’s painter prevails. There are levels to how the paintings read; a slow burn that leaves the eye traveling around and through, like attempting to identify familiar neighborhoods through the window of an airplane. He relies largely on the inherent value of color to create sculptural space. Working the ground of the painting a great deal before the forms emerge, he allows the optical blend of colors and temperatures sitting next to each other to begin to dictate how the scaffolding will eventually buttress the architecture.
Oftentimes the paintings become blueprints for each other when at a certain point compositional decisions demand more planning and less intuition. He overlays mylar to map out possibilities of areas that can be interrupted, buried, emphasized, or de-emphasized. The same mapping may be applied to different works in different ways, seamlessly distorting the composition like the subtle remanence of a light source temporarily imprinted on a retina.
Colin Thomson was born in London, England and moved to New York in 1955. He attended Lake Forest College, BA, 1971, The New York Studio School, 1972-1975, Skowhegan School of Art, 1974, and Yale University, MFA, 1977. He’s been included in multiple group shows and presented ten solo exhibitions in venues nationally and internationally. Thomson received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1991-1992. Public and corporate collections include Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Centro Culturale, Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, Chase Manhattan Bank, Grey Art Gallery, New York University, M & T Bank, National Madison Group, Weatherspoon Art Gallery, and Wilkie, Farr & Gallagher. He has produced nearly 200 exhibitions over the past 40 years with museums and for museums as Director of the PaineWebber/UBS Art Gallery in midtown Manhattan.
Romanov Grave | One Question / One Answer with Colin Thomson by Daniel Weiner
Figure/Ground | Conversation with Colin Thomson by Jim Butler