John Finneran’s new paintings are empty of the faces, continuous bodies and classical three figure compositions that were, until recently, his recurrent motifs. Body fragments are still present, but abstracted by degrees and simplified as arcs, tri- angles, crescents and circles. Shapes nestle inside each other: eyes peeping out of belly buttons or hands at either end of an open spiral making an embrace. This distillation of forms creates a live surface where shapes oscillate between figure and ground, recalling the sensation in a child’s hand locating a block in a shape sorter – a moment of fit, of eye and hand, of self and world coming together. The removal of historical references or any kind of ornamentation from the paintings, brings them even closer to feelings than ideas and into the present moment of encounter with the viewer. Where previous works have exploited the symbolic potential of their parts, here they prompt strong physical sensations. I feel myself feeling what it would be like to be a circle; to fit completely against another shape; to bend. In this internal mirroring I’m reminded that when we speak to each other it is not the sound itself that we understand but the sound as an indication of the gestures of the mouth required to produce it.
John Finneran (US, 1979) Recent exhibitions include Greater New York, PS1 MoMA, New York; Tightrope Walk: Painted Images After Abstraction, White Cube, London; After Effect, Ballrom Marfa, Texas, US; Hannah Hoffman Gallery, Los Angeles (solo). He lives and works in Los Angeles, US.