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Too much of life is understood, there is too much meaning and everything experienced appears mechanically interpreted by the stacked index of the mind. Something like nature is supposed to present the antithesis to modern living and the lack of sensation, its entire lack of reason a source of inspiration. Jim Gaylord attempts a resolution of modern existence to forms that occur without any thought. The oil painting, “Should We Talk Above It Now?”(below), sends careening a form of blotchy to solid color areas patched together with metered textures and amalgamations of organelle or motor parts into a scenic landscape of clumps of dried brush and tall pines extending innumerably to the distance. The tree tops pointing to what? A blue sky accompanied by what? Billowy clouds drifting. There is more than an ironic contrast between realism and abstraction, one is cataclysmic to the other, traces of violence rupture and forcefully annex parts of the scenery.

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The “Final Destination” series has a similar arrangement; peering out the window of an airplane during the night, the landscape below obscured in pitch black except for the glowering strands of dots in the distance, and Gaylord’s realism astounds as the viewer realizes they them self have witnessed this inspiring nighttime display. But this landscape only fills a cut-away where the round lines of a 747’s body arch up with plastic fixtures. Within the lighted tones of the cab a sense of confusion rises, followed by a panic; outstretched limbs gravitate, articles of clothing warp in vacuum suction, random geometric objects whirl past uncontrollably; the forms discombobulating toward the black landscape. Panic is heightened further with a bright orange explosion that emanates form outside. The imagery is not so centered on sensationalist reaction but gets to the thought of the instantaneous moment; why you are in it and what could possibly happen then.

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The anxiety of modern living is a consistent theme throughout Gaylord’s works but often his paintings and mixed media pieces delve into regions that are purely abstract and disavow any form of representation or pattern of signification. It may be a sign of progression for the artist. To catch up on his brilliance, The Hole, in New York City, is going to have his work on display April 23-28.

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-Howard Halverson

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