To say that one has crossed the point of no return suggests that a pendulum may swing all the way to the other end of the spectrum. Often times, there is no turning back and the situation usually turns for the worst, like Anakin Skywalker stepping over to the dark side for his eventual transformation into Darth Vader. “Command Z” is nowhere to be found. In the case of James Boulton’s new paintings and sculptures exhibited at Monte Vista Projects, the force, none the less, was strong in him. The happy ending ensued. The artist came out on the other side alive and well, not evil or broken. With him was a set of beautifully wacky messes of translucent intimacy, complemented by equally zany sculpted cute masses.
Painted mostly with gouache and watercolor, laced occasionally with collaged papers, Boulton had to cross the point of no return each and every time the pigmented layers accumulated enough opacity to obliterate the stains and marks underneath. The desire to maintain these precious blotches and speckles untouched, however, quickly became subservient to the obsessive excitement of continuously developing and reinventing the image. The strategy was an overtly simple one: build to destroy and destroy to build until something good rises from the ruins. Although straight as an arrow in its approach, the artist had to have faith and courage in his craft.
Luckily for everyone involved, Boulton’s gamble paid off. Powerfully infectious and lovely images emerged as a result, earning amusing titles such as Shark with Cigarettes and Cubes Are Squares. In a strange but intelligible juxtaposition, these scintillating painted gems gave a sense that they might have been excavated from the gessoed rock-ish sculptures quietly sitting on the gallery floor. Dense but light and concrete but paper-like, the rocks remained silent, as if to have been imparted with a whispering knowledge that they were indeed diamonds in the rough. We’ll have to wait and see Boulton’s next move to find out.
James Boulton’s Quality Time concluded on May 10, 2015 at Monte Vista Projects. It was a TREAT. Follow the gallery’s future programs at www.montevistaprojects.com
All images by author for editorial purposes only.