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Tom Wesselman

Buschlen Mowatt Galleries,
Vancouver Jan 17-Feb 14

Tom Wesslelman, Smoker Study (Reclining), (1972), oil on canvas [Buschlen Mowatt Galleries, Vancouver, Jan 17-Feb 14]
The name Tom Wesselman will go down in Western art history steeped in a uniquely American brashness and cavalier sense of eroticism. The exhibitionist pose of a nude female body, coupled with the traditional elements of still-life – flowers, fruit and dishes – has been his signature motif since the 1960s. Four decades on, his work still has that hard-angled abstract line of constructivism coupled with the montage style of 1950’s advertising art.

Wesselman first produced the “Little American Nude” series in 1961. Their impetus originated with small abstract collages of figures in interiors and later spawned his “Great American Nude” paintings. The latter, which he intended as a play on other “great American dreams”, had the character and spirit of drawings by Matisse. In fact, over time the subjects of Wessleman’s work became in many instances simplified to single coloured contour lines.

While keeping his distinctive Pop-art approach, he developed other stylistic guises: an “Interior” series using modern, synthetic materials; “Bathtub Collages” of voyeuristic images embedded with real objects; and sculptural, free-standing canvas works. Also prevalent are references to other 20th Century artists like Picasso, Lichtenstein and de Kooning. In his recent work, Wesselman has enlarged quick, loose sketches onto sheets of aluminum or steel and painted them with bright colours.

© Mia Johnson


 Fri, Mar 29, 2002