For John Blee, painting is poetry and color is its language.
“Color determines the voice of each painting,” he says. “It can never be exactly repeated. So when I find the right colors in the process of painting, they are like keys that open the works for me.”
His recent work, on view at Cross MacKenzie Gallery, 1675 Wisconsin Ave. NW, expands his “Orchard” series, which began in 2007. These lush, atmospheric environments of color and delicate shapes are a sensory envelopment, recalling the painterly geometric abstraction of Hans Hofmann and the alluring garden scenes of Pierre Bonnard.
Yet Blee finds much of his inspiration in poetry. The origin of this series is connected to the late French poems of Rainer Maria Rilke, specifically his collection “Vergers,” (French for “Orchards”).
Regardless, his paintings are for those among us who adore the secret life of paint itself. They are for those who lean in close to explore the trails of the brush, tracing its path and listening for the echo of colors scratched gently across the taut canvas. For this writer, paintings do not get much better. These are paintings I would like to live with. - Ari Post
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