[Green's] highly refined paintings were sumptuous compilations of detailed conflux. Large scale provocative tableaus, arresting in interest and painterly engineering, commanded attention...
- Greg Morell, The Recorder, Greenfield, MA
The whitened palette of Gordon Green first startles, then triggers an unpredictable and unwieldy range of associations, then, finally commands investigation and demands to be taken on its own terms.
Before looking hard at any individual paintings in Green's exhibition at Chapel Gallery, the viewer scans the work on the walls and panels for a contrast of value or emergence of hue to break the eerie whiteness that presents itself in the first big oils on canvas sighted upon entering the gallery. Nowhere is color allowed to assert itself and nowhere is value allowed to dip into middle or low range.
Occasionally the palest of reds or greens pull out of their thick white grounds, but they are quickly absorbed back into pasty bleached neutrals. Even with their pink and green tinges, these paintings present themselves as white and as page gray as plaster bas-reliefs. Accepting the limitations of Green's palette hardly quells the flood of questions, speculations and associations set off by its consistent, insistent pallor. "I chose the light palette...first to mitigate and oppose the effect of a dense and cluttered composition, and, second, to create a fantastic atmosphere. Since the composition here was based to a greater extent on the rectangle of the frame than the vertical/horizontal of the traditional landscape, it suggested to me a new and fanciful world with the white vertigo of snowfall, full of vague and foreign possibilities."
The "vague and foreign possibilities" are served too, by Green's imagery. The combination of images that are made to have relationships solely through Green's placing them in the same painting and through their formation and lack of coloration, makes us look at them outside our notions about them. We see the things in these paintings the way we see things in our dreams: in defiance of the laws of gravity, space and predictable context.
In The Dry Season, a man in a wide brimmed hat stands facing out, posed to confront the viewer. The painting's title suggests to us the man is a farmer. Carefully articulated wrinkles and folds in his clothing are as abundant and as exaggerated as baroque white marble sculpture. The world around the farmer is unsettled. A gigantic pair of scissors snips the sharply diminishing curve of an empty railroad track leading nowhere. Fat white sunflowers push up to the canvas's frontal plane growing from nowhere. A sign is seen straight on: it reads "Dead Man." Serpentine drape-like forms cross the picture, their folds sculpted as deeply as the restricted value range allows. Behind and between the drape forms, boards, scaffolding and veined leaves pattern themselves across the painting's surface.
The surfaces of Green's paintings, we come to realize, are integral to their content. The cryptic and disparate images are given weight and volume through the thick rendering of light and shadow, but never really allowed to settle in a cohesive space. Because each object occupies its own separate space, the eye moves from object to object across the painting's surface. In the largest work of the show, an untitled triptych, Green culminates surface movement across the canvases with three arrows forming a circle.
The events in Green's paintings always lead back to the surface and move the eye from one image to the next. Finally, the pale, ashen neutrals have the odd effect of absorbing rather than reflecting light and of silencing the fantastic, strange chaos.
- Meredith Fife Day, What's Up
Gordon Green's oil paintings offer mysterious, congested, irrational views blending aspects of interiors and landscape. He uses a pale, deliberately limited palette that has a whispery, snowy, bleached quality that distances the work from the everyday. The imagery is slippery: Sometimes it seems funny, sometimes apocalyptic.
- Christine Temin, Boston Globe
Imagine. a snowy white landscape of unrelated imagery cleverly put together but so disjointed that it looks as if it were hit by an avalanche. Such are the paintings of Gordon Green, a Newtonville artist, that arc currently on view al the Summer's World Center for the Arts, 70 Piedmont St.
Green is big on white. Pure white and off-white and little dabs of grayish white are all around. In his paintings, the vegetation is white and so are the bridges. the cabins, the picket fences, and all the other man-made objects. Even the sky and the earth and just about everything else is rendered white. It gives a sense of purity to an otherwise confusing and skewed world in which everything seems to be thrown about.
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There's plenty of vegetation, mostly leafy plants and flowers. All white, of course. There also gnarled trees.
It's a strange world. yet despite the obvious havoc, these white environments of broken-up interiors and landscapes are far from threatening. As a matter of fact, they come across as quite friendly.
With its limited range of colors and his strange imagery, Green's work is unusual, to say the least.
In "The Dry Season" a man is standing in a landscape of white flowers and plants. A set of railroad tracks, curves steeply upwards and is close to being snipped off by a pair of scissors. Floating in the background are small railroad bridges.
In another work with a similarly disjointed set of images, one can find a mountain range in the distance, a solitary chair, large wooden beams, a lot of vegetation and a trap door.
Controlled mayhem. Irrational and eccentric.
Are these dreams or forays into the subconscious, or are we dealing with images that represent a pictorial diary? It's obvious Green has a fertile imagination.
While full of virtuosity, his imagery remains disconcertingly difficult to gauge.
He paints with confidence and despite the scrambled imagery there is an harmoniousness one would not expect. Applying conventional standards, though, it is art that is not easily digested.
- Peter P. Donker, Worcester Telegram