Gallery 1261, September 19-October 18
This story was featured in the September 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art September 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
You won’t find a title affixed to the latest show of more than a dozen recent oil paintings by Gregory Block, which launches with a reception on September 19 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Gallery 1261. That lack of a label deliberately reflects the 28-year-old artist’s wide-ranging interests, questing spirit, and unwillingness to be pinned down.
Visitors to the show can find atmospheric street scenes of old Morocco, inspired by a recent trip Block made to the North African nation. “I was really struck in particular with the architecture there,” says Block, who is attending the opening. Alongside those scenes hang shadowy still-life paintings including AMERICANA, which conjures its own moody sense of closer-up reality—along with a touch of surrealism through its unlikely juxtaposition of objects crammed into cubbyholes. These include an oil lamp, jumbles of paper, an open cigarette package, a taped-up cardboard box, and a pristine copy of The Joy of Cooking. “I’ve been working on approaching the edge of trompe l’oeil,” observes the self-taught artist, “so you’ll feel as if you can almost reach in and grab items or wipe the dust off the shelf.”
Still other works in the show are tightly composed landscapes executed in a finely rendered style Block describes as “contemporary realism.” Yet these, too, possess deeper shades of meaning, having found their inspiration in two of the four concerti that make up Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. “I’m just really interested,” Block says, “in how visual art, like music, can create a mood and a setting.”
Regardless of the subject matter, the artist hopes the level of detail and painstaking execution found in his works will inspire viewers to linger over and ponder them, just as he himself slowed down and took more time than he ever has before to complete them—as long as two months for some of the largest pieces. “I hope people will look at a piece and feel that time is passing or that the painting is part of a continuum in a greater story, imbuing the work with more of a sense of the passage of time,” Block explains.
In such deep-thinking ways, Block’s latest offerings add up to an ambitious assortment befitting the spirit of Gallery 1261, the brainchild of noteworthy artist Quang Ho, who founded the space and serves as its curator in an effort to “show the work that is truly important, done without constraints of marketing strategies and sales quotas.” In that vein, adds Ho, “Greg Block’s work encompasses the highest search for the ability to perform, as well as deeper concepts on both the visual and the intellectual level.” Still, Block’s show also stands a good chance of doing well commercially. After all, according to the artist, his first solo exhibition there, held in June of last year, “was their first sold-out solo show ever.” —Norman Kolpas
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