Monthly Archives: May 2013

 Tour Guide of Future Signs – The work of John Phillip Abbott


words by Derrick Buisch

“Why are you watching? Someone must watch, it is said. Someone must be there.”- Franz Kafka

It is fair to assume that John Phillip Abbott’s paintings are made inside a room commonly referred to as a painting studio. The real question we may be left to wonder/ponder is simply – who chooses to do this and why? What motivates these works in particular? Are they random acts of inspiration? Is it just years of research, training and preparation, that result in these colored crafted chemical optical concoctions? What motivates Abbott to make these paintings of broken words and fragmented phrases in flashing colors with such powerful retinal intensity?

Are these paintings the result of some form of time travel? Do these works occupy the strange spaces in the gaps of some unknowable future timeline?

These new paintings by John Phillip Abbott are the visual equivalent of a brain freeze. Push play and turn it up loud; these paintings come in surround sound. Abbott’s paintings amplify the periphery. They spell out a condition of confusion in bold block letters – right/write below the surface of legibility. Speak to me in crystal clear color picture glyphs that are impossible to ignore and possibly even more difficult to understand. These works work to evoke, provoke, instigate those little brain tremors of synesthetic visual pleasure and poetic curiosity that great paintings can summon up on the best days of looking.

John Phillip Abbott’s words in his new paintings run out of space. They are broken, warped, and disjointed. These paintings celebrate their own inherent contradictions because they relish the mess we have come to expect from painting. They are loud when paintings are silent. They are fast when paintings are still. They unravel when paintings are finished. These paintings move, jump, pop, sing, shout…they move out into space and squirm about. Abbott’s paintings are ill behaved in the best way.

One thing these new works by Abbott represent – options, the ecstasy of possibilities, honest and joyous play, a powerful result of many hours of enthusiastic labor. As painters (from one painter to another) this is what we work for, this is where the hours of training, straining, all of the false starts, former loves, past disappointments, all the trials and errors – all the ingredients of a life lived so far under the umbrella of the vocation of painter, practitioner, studio rat – comes to this: A crystal clear body of works, all in harmony with each other, all buzzing in the same visual bandwidth frequency. POW. This is what we work for, this is what we strive for, this is what we live for – these moments of inspiration, of focused intensity, of visual levitation.

I have seen the future and it beckons bright with many colored signs. I remain an optimist. Thank you, John Phillip Abbott, for showing the way. I have a good feeling there will be many wonders there – I can’t wait.

Why are you painting? Someone must paint, it is said. Someone must be there.

An earlier version of this essay and some of these works appeared at PIER 1218 Madison, WI Summer 2012






Leave a comment

Filed under Articles, Artist Profiles, Profiles

Paula Wilson: visual artist

paula_wilson_portrait                                                                                                                photo by Milu Abel

When I sat down to write this artist statement I found I was using the same prefix over and over to describe my work and artistic motivation. MULTI>>> “multicultural,” “multimedia,” “multifaceted,” “multi-surfaced,” “multiple viewpoints,” “multiple perspectives,” and “a multitude of factors” were all in my initial draft.

In many ways this age is defined by the global mass of digital experiences and information we instantly access and participate in. Yet there are ancient and traditional paradigms that continue to hold sway in today’s world. My work aims at representing this confluence using the conventional two-dimensional picture-plane as a ground on which pluralism is made visual.

The vessel is one art historical trope I utilize to portray multiple viewpoints within a single surface. I am drawn to the form because it lacks a singular reference; every society, in every age, has utilized the container in one form or another making it universal and multicultural. The vessel serves as a link between the inner and outer, the old and new world. The viewer can perceive an image painted on the surface of the vase, the room where it rests, the contents therein, and the focus of the figures who are often engaged in technological interfaces.

I am also drawn to the vessel and other utilitarian forms because of their association with domesticity and femininity. My work often behaves like a Trickster– wiggling through faux techniques or alternative constructs outside traditional painting. A piece can proclaim “I am not a painting, I am a mosaic!” or “I’m not an artwork, I am a stained glass window!” My rug paintings are literally walked upon– made from narrow slats of wood glued to the canvas. The pieces can be rolled up, stood on end, or laid flat on the floor. This transformability allows the work a flexibility and utilitarianism not often associated with painting. Through this “downgrading,” away from “high” art, I seek to elevate the common place and highlight the magic of the everyday.

My pieces have a dense and mosaiced surface derived from collaging printed and painted material with machine and hand stitching. I am drawn to pattern and to intense color creating a fast-paced viewing experience where details and meaning arise as one’s eyes move about the canvas. This is where distraction mets contemplation. While there is a found-objectness to my work, all the material is generated by my own hand creating a feedback loop of remixed artwork. In this world that is at once fast and antique, virtual and dated this allows me to synthesize a portrait of self where the multiplicity of experience becomes whole. – Paula Wilson


1big_ladyBIG LADY
batik (dye and wax resist process), oil, acrylic, monoprinted stencil on machine sewn canvas laminated to pine, brass-hinged “stick figure”
48″ x 91″


intaglio, screen print on Somerset Textured
Produced in collaboration with MassArt’s Master Print Series
30″ x 15″

MassArt’s Master Print Series


reduction woodblock print on Kitakata mounted to Somerset Satin
Produced in collaboration with City College, NYC’s City Editions
19 1/2″ x 15″


monoprint, acrylic, oil on canvas laminated to pine slats
49″ x 80″



woodblock, acrylic, oil on canvas, machine and hand stitching
41″ x 58″


monotype, acrylic on cloth with machine stitching, pine rod
53 1/2″ x 41″


monotype, acrylic on cloth with machine stitching, pine rod, oak hanger
55″ x 42 1/2″



8 detailBAZAAR
monotype, ink, acrylic, oil, machine stitching on canvas, cherry wood
41″ x 62 1/2″


acrylic, oil on canvas laminated to pine slats
72” x 46”


acrylic, oil on canvas laminated to pine slats
66” x 92 ¼”

Paula’s website:


Filed under Artist Profiles, Interviews