When David Solomon moved out west nearly 20 years ago, he brought the colors and moods of his South Florida home with him. The selection of brilliantly abstracted, riotously strange new paintings in Patina Gallery’s exhibition Shape Shifter recalls the distinctive natural environments of both Florida and Santa Fe, where he’s lived for more than a dozen years. A veteran of the local art scene, Solomon has organized exhibitions, installed and curated shows, bought and sold art, and steadfastly maintained an active painting schedule.
Since 2009, Solomon has painted on aluminum panels, which afford him a totally flat, nonporous surface, a negation of what he calls the “visual content” of canvas and linen. For his current body of work, he focused on refining and retooling shapes and symbols he’s long been fascinated with, injecting them with the unexpected, sometimes freaky color pairings that might well be considered his calling card. In these paintings, amorphous blobs float contentedly across thickly textured, heavily brush-stroked backgrounds. Recurring across many are shapes like elongated eyeballs or slender footballs — but, most of all, like seedpods. In turns translucent and opaque, they’re spanned with lines that look like the veins in a leaf. “I’ve been thinking of this latest body of work as a type of ‘systematic abstraction,’ ” Solomon told Pasatiempo. “While the parts in previous paintings operated by themselves in an environment, it was more refined. I wanted more action happening in the picture. These newer pieces have multiple main characters that interact with each other.” Maybe this deliberate anthropomorphizing explains why walking up to a piece like the dynamic, wildly colored Body Bomb Redux feels like barging into a private conversation. Matte areas of color are interspersed with drippy trails of mauve and black. The work’s central form looks like a sliced-open honeycomb, whose pale blue and navy interior cells seem tender and alive, with pulses that expand and contract before our eyes. They’re exposed, and so are we in viewing them.
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