Christopher Lowry Johnson at Winkleman

Christopher Lowry Johnson Platform 2007 oil on canvas 66" x 78" [large detail of installation]


This is not a walk-thru show. Actually, this is probably true for most painting shows (at least those where the gallerist/curator has any creds at all), but this one is even more special. It seems quite muted at first, but given a little time, its rewards are great.

Christopher Lowry Johnson has an exhibition of his latest work at Winkleman in a show titled "Chorus", his third solo turn at the gallery. The show closes on Saturday.

I recently walked into the space at the end of a long afternoon of gallery visits and sat down on the bench in the middle [yes, a bench in a gallery - a bench, how extraordinary, and how helpful for both visitor and art!]. I stared at the large, very white-ish, canvas across from me, expecting to work with it only as a beautiful, complex abstraction. I had been immediately attracted to its drama and beauty as I walked in, before I knew anything or saw very much, but then something happened. As I sat looking at this canvas its impenetrable layers of oil opened a wonderful, very grand window on images both abstract and concrete, a world undetectable at first or even second glance.

The remaining works, although much less abstract, are no less beautiful or profound in their impact. Johnson's technical skills are matched by what seems to me to be an extraordinary appreciation of history, and no less the history of painting itself.

Oh yes, while Barry and I were there on Saturday, one of New York's best art critics slipped into the gallery, but sadly stayed only a minute or so. I think it was a mistake, and a loss for scads of readers.

In any event, if you can make it to West 27 Street in the next few days, you might want to do so, especially since it was impossible to get a decent photograph of the work, and "Platform" in particular.

I'm ambivalent about relying on statements and press releases for an appreciation of work generally, so I tend to read them rather lightly, and usually only when baffled or feeling in need of what I call the "instructions" supplied by a gallery or museum. In this case the two-paragraph text supplied on the gallery site can provide a very useful jumping-off point, although I confess I was fortunate to get some insight directly from the owner/director Ed Winkleman himself. Heck, are Paula, Jeffrey, Matthew or Mary always there when you could use their help? We love the smaller galleries, for this and so many other reasons.

Christopher Lowry Johnson Creamed 2006 oil on canvas 30" x 38"

More images can be found on the artist's own site, although he grants that "the elusive 'platform' . . . continues to escape accurate documentation".