ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Chicago-born Albuquerque artist and award-winning graphics and film designer Roger Green is exhibiting selections from his “Series Pentimenti,” new acrylic paintings, at the Freestyle Gallery through Aug. 31.
The term pentimento (plural pentimenti) refers to the evidence of changes an artist makes during the development of a composition on canvas.
Green presents a collection of abstract paintings that appear to be heavily textured impasto images.
In reality the silky smooth and almost perfectly flat surfaces contradict what the eye is seeing.
When Henri Matisse worked on his famous “Blue Nude” in 1907 he shifted the position of the figure, leaving behind visual echoes of its original pose.
Most paintings by Matisse and geometric abstractionist Piet Mondrian help define the term pentimento as changes are readily visible in a museum setting. Please note, Mondrian’s alterations are not obvious in reproductions or photographs.
Green has embraced the pentimento aesthetic while actually creating palimpsest imagery by sanding through layers of painted alterations in an effort to reveal the final image.
Though Green’s intentions are painterly, his technique belongs in the manuscript arena where a page or scroll is scraped or washed off for reuse while leaving traces of previous text.
What Green presents to viewers are the palimpsest remnants of his complex working process.
In works like “Balancing Act” Green creates imagery that harks back to prehistoric pictographs and Australian Aboriginal rock painting.
Though he has an advertising background Green does not illustrate subjects; instead he discovers them through his layering and removal process.
When viewing “Free Fallin'” the viewer is given a synthetic skydiving experience with a touch of virtual vertigo tossed into the mix.
All of Green’s paintings utilize the strange palette offered to artists using exterior acrylic house paint that is offered in thousands of hues and a full range of tonalities.
Green has perfected his technical approach through trial and error to the point that the type of paint used is a non-issue.
However, the spectrum of available hues though vast is quite different from those offered in fine-arts supply stores.
Ambiguity reigns in Green’s “Series Pentimenti — Eve,” which could refer to the first woman or, actually, the second if you are familiar with the story of Adam’s first female companion, Lilith, in Eden or the artist could be alluding to the last moments before nightfall.
Green works in short-run themes within the greater series such as his “Avian” and “Fossil” paintings. He offers even more romantically imaginative subjects in works like “Pentimenti Series — Antelope Moon” and “Pentimenti Series — Falling Rider,” which are both powerfully evocative images.
In Green’s “Fossil II” there appear to be skeletal forms depicted in hot reds and deep blacks. The title also reiterates the artist’s archaeological approach to image making.
Overall these are successful narrative abstractions that benefit from painstaking craftsmanship and skillful execution.
Green began life in the midst of high-rise apartment buildings on the North Side of Chicago before discovering art during his teen years.
He rose through the ranks in the advertising industry where he won a series of gold medals for creative excellence, including a Lion de Argent at the Cannes Film Festival in France and three Clio Awards for Excellence.
Ten years ago Green was drawn to New Mexico, where he found artistic freedom and jump-started his career in fine arts.
His advertising background places him in good company with Taos Artists Society founders Bert Phillips and Ernest Blumenschein, who began life as book and magazine illustrators and later used their fine-arts paintings to help the Santa Fe Railroad sell tickets to tourists.
Green’s solo exhibition is now in the main gallery but will be re-hung as a salon show in the back gallery through August. It’s well worth a trip Downtown.