Monday, August 1, 2011

Peel Back the Surface Layers

Splash (2011) by Greg Miller

I'm not a fan of collage works. I appreciate the effort involved in selecting and arranging the mixed media into a desired artistic expression, but it generally feels a bit gimmicky. It's as if we are meant to be impressed by the pain-staking process of collage, rather than the significance of the image created. However, I'm very enthusiastic about paintings that incorporate elements of collage. And that's precisely what Greg Miller's work does.

Miller is a Neo-Pop artist. His images are evocative of pop cultural elements, specifically from the '50s or '60s. These images are superficial, presenting a smooth facade under which images or texts are revealed through a thinning of the paint or a tear in the surface. This is where the elements of collage come into play. The selected mixed media elements play off of the superficial main image, reinforcing, elaborating, or undercutting its significance.

LA Y Bunny (2011) by Greg Miller

The current exhibit of Greg Miller's work, "Magnificent Seven" at the William Turner Gallery, displays this masterful technique wonderfully. With glamorous images of an idealized bygone Los Angeles, the collage elements create a rich counterpoint commentary and dissonant vibe to the work. The overall effect is playful but articulate.

Incorporating comic book images, advertisements, newspaper articles, and fashion magazines, Miller creates a rich dialectic within the imagery. From the premise of the Ideal, he posits supporting thesis and antithesis from which each viewer may derive their own conclusion. His works seem shallow upon a brief glance but, under a deeper scrutiny, they become highly engaging, both intellectually and aesthetically.

Sunset Blvd by Greg Miller

When I first saw this show, I poked my head into the gallery and thought "Bleh. Neo-Pop stuff. I'll pass." But it was a hot day and I had time to spare so I wandered in to give it a better look. I'm happy that I did. These pieces were surprisingly compelling. I absolutely enjoyed this exhibition.

Here's a vid discussing a few of Miller's works:

In any case, this is an excellent show.

Here's the William Turner Gallery website.

And here's Greg Miller's website.


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