Jack of all trades and master of FUN – that should be a great description of what this artist does and for his first solo show with the gallery, well, it sure is a variety of works and the hits just kept on coming. AF came to the opening of Thomas Campbell for Ampersand and he showed paintings and sculpture and original bronzes and hand-sewn work. It is easy to see the multiple inspirations that shaped his latest oeuvre.
Candy Land palette and its whimsical fairytale landscape gave it that buoyant feel on the paintings. The California based artist brings forth his snippets and inspiration from travels as some patterns evoke Moroccan tile, the Pacific Islands with some Batik looking flourishes, and the swirling turrets like the iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral at the Kremlin in Russia. Although quite pleasant, you can appreciate the intricate minutiae of symbols, subtexts and characters inhabiting his world. The gourd shape seems to be a recurring item in tiny details and the sculpture. It is an object of multiple uses as it can be a container, musical instrument, and food. Campbell gravitated towards this shape not only for its inherent uses but it influenced the lines and forms that he drew. There are little objects protruding off from the four rigid sides of the canvas that further pushed the playful out there vibe of his art. It is all at once innovative and refreshing to see someone willing to go outside the conventional lines.
The bronze sculptures evoked Aboriginal art and idol like faces that can either be Oceanic or Pre-Columbian masks. They are hewn and put together skillfully from found objects while the tapestry like hand-sewn work turned out a quilt of rapid- fire imagination. Campbell demonstrated a never-ending fascination and verve to manipulate into creating multi-faceted works that are relatable and genuinely puts a smile to your face. Life is far too serious as is and sometimes, you got to take the happy pill then have a nice day.
Campbell loaded it up with his illustrative style and peppy color choices but it is meant to encapsulate the restless and continually exploratory journey of his artistic work. The jumble of inspiration, method, material and rhetoric mitigated the solid impact of his work for this show. In art, there are possibilities and limitations. Rhyme and Conflict. Restraint and Exuberance. Safety and Danger. There are far too many pairings and they all work endlessly to fuel creativity. It’s always a good thing for what’s on either side of “and”.
Thomas Campbell: Ampersand / On View: June 12 – July 12, 2014
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday (11 am to 6 pm)
Joshua Liner Gallery. 540 West 28th Street. NYC, NY 10001
Art Review by: Oscar A. Laluyan
Select Art Images from Joshua Liner Gallery courtesy of the artist
Photography by: Olya Turcihin