FINDING ABSTRACTION AMONGST SMALL WORKS

Looking at the work of Joe Norris, a winner of a merit award in the current “Ports of Call” exhibition, we are reminded of fauvism, abstract expressionism, and the artists that pioneered these periods.

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Turn Starboard After Light House 15 inches x 12 inches mixed media

 

After being initially drawn to the striking marks of Joe Norris’ award winning piece Turn Starboard After Lighthouse in the Small Works: Ports of Call exhibition, we take a closer look at what Norris is up to in his studio. Norris uses various mediums to create spontaneous marks charged with emotion. In his work Admit One, defined lines and collaged shapes are used to highlight the ticket, lettering and black marks within the work, bringing them forward.

 

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Admit One 12 inches x 10 inches mixed media

 

His use of mark making and color blocking reminds us of one of the pioneers of fauvism and abstract expressionism, Hans Hoffman. How Norris uses color and line quality to bring shapes to the foreground, or in turn, let them fall back into the space he has created, exemplifies his understanding of color theory. Just as Hoffman uses simplified shapes and bold color to create different volumes of space within a two dimensional plane, Norris does the same within his works Backyard Garden and Planting Time. Norris uses more muted, softer tones for the background and bright bold colors with hard lines for the objects seemingly closer to the viewer. These subtle decisions ground the subject matter of the works, mimicking how the human eye makes sense of a space.

 

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Backyard Garden 24 inches x 24 inches oil on canvas

 

As much as Norris’ works stand alone, they also can serve as windows or detail shots of a potential larger scape. His work Planting Time alludes to details of what might go on in his Backyard Garden, depicting a few staple attributes to a garden in the backyard. Well versed in many mediums, Norris brings atmosphere to these two dimensional planes.

 

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Planting Time 22 inches x 16 inches

 

You can see Norris’ and the other small works in Small Works: Ports of Call, on view in the Lower Gallery through August 19th.

 

Written by Intern Savanna Nelson