Artist Josh George's work can be deceiving. When viewed through a photographic image or looked at from afar the viewer encounters interesting imagery and a bold color choice to deliver the narrative. But there's much more than first perceived.
“This is the first time I have painted conceptually and narratively,” he says. “And it does kind of go back to my childhood influences of drawing robots and superheroes and barbarians. Things you are not supposed to do in a fine arts context.”
George's show, “Establishing Shot” at Ghostprint Gallery, references the cinematic concept of the same name — the first shots in a movie scene, such as panning across a city, or the interior shot in which the action is about to take place. Like this concept, George creates paintings of varying sizes that are meant to hang near each other. The smaller of the work sets up the shot and the larger work draws the audience in.
From here it's his process and final product that stand out as much as his subject matter and conceptual titles. Working with acrylic and oil paints as well as various collaged materials, George pieces the paintings together as if they had once been smashed to pieces. Many parts of the paintings are so in-depth with material viewers may find themselves focusing on a single point within the painting, finding it difficult to take in the entirety. Together his concept, narratives and application develop an otherworldly feeling.
The presence of the human form is also central to this show. George views the human form as a “timeless subject matter” with which he's pushing toward realism without reaching true photographic quality. Working from a foundation of collaged material, George uses the paints and scraps of cloth, paper and wallpaper to form his human subjects. He fleshes together the components just as millions of molecules combine to form a meaty hand. George permits an allowance of the collaged patterns to rise to the surface in areas. His control of the paint creates a translucent element to the figures.
“I like to create a surface and then kind of look at texture and patterns and color — pretty much everything is covered with something,” he says. “I like the history of the collage elements.” Regarding the painstaking effort to create the fractured layer, George says: “They are there to kind of charge the paintings. They have a lot of energy.”
His titles are as pieced and challenging as the work they describe. Strong in scientific language, the titles inspire the bombardment of atoms continually in effect around us. A viewer's mind may reflect upon the infinite microcosm that allows a human body to physically take up space. With this in mind, viewers might just find some part of themselves deep within one of George's paintings. S
“Establishing Shot,” paintings by Josh George, runs at Ghostprint Gallery, 220 W. Broad St., until Oct. 30. Information at 344-1557 or ghostprintgallery.com.