Two very different painters show that abstractionism isn’t dead yet

Robert C. Jones and Cable Griffith both offer works with an optimistic outlook at G. Gibson Gallery.

Two very different, but extremely complementary, approaches to the challenge of making abstract art are on view at the G. Gibson Gallery this month, and both are engaging and satisfying in their own way. Robert C. Jones is a “classic” abstractionist, working in the tradition of earlier masters, particularly Matisse. Cable Griffith is more eclectic and contemporary, enthusiastically employing imagery from pop culture in his compositions.

The two painters share an affinity for the grid, a visible framework that serves as an armature for their inventions, and both make frequent references to landscape. Equally notable, both painters share the sort of positive, utopian spirit that animated the pioneer abstractionists in the period before Jackson Pollock and his colleagues conjured forth darker and more conflicted forces in the service of nonobjective art. Griffith and Jones see painting as a means to create a world that is more poetic and uplifting than our own.

There certainly isn’t any underlying anxiety or unrest in the Griffith painting “Plein@ir 1.4 (Wenatchee).” Based on aerial views of an imaginary landscape that is a recurring Griffith image, the various trees, hills, roads and structures have been pared down to graphic, thickly painted dashes, curves, blocks and chevrons. The background is stained a deep red violet, overpainted with a sunset palette of dark blues, greens, purples and maroons. A bull’s-eye, blue-white sun glows from the exact center of the piece. Like most of Griffith’s work, “Plein@air 1.4” takes visual cues from video games, computer graphics, signage and technical diagrams, all put to the service of a rhythmic, musical structure.

Exhibition Review

‘Robert C. Jones: New Paintings’ and ‘Cable Griffith: This, That, and Everything’

11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 14, G. Gibson Gallery, 104 W. Roy St., Seattle (206-587-4033 or ggibsongallery.com).

Not all the newest paintings, which combine loose, dyed backgrounds with tight, linear foregrounds, are successful, but three more familiar-looking works — moody close-ups of a highly stylized, deeply spatial forest — show off what Griffith has always done best, engineering a shotgun marriage of the painterly and the pixelated.

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