For Tom McGlynn’s second solo exhibition with the gallery, Rick Wester Fine Art is pleased to present paintings from 2018 – 2020 that continue his dedication to the transformation of the generic visual culture he finds so prevalent in contemporary life into a lexicon of shapes and colors which are the vehicle for his art. In this current iteration however, McGlynn advances his approach through even bolder dismissals of observational art making. The abstractions are no longer directly connected to the culturally loaded source materials he once looked to for inspiration such as the. His appropriations of corporate logos of large multi-national Fortune 500 companies have taken on further dimension by being one step further removed from the source material. Ellen Lupton, Curator of Contemporary Design at the Cooper –Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, has said of McGlynn’s 1990s work “It’s a critique of corporate omniscience”. She would include his work in “Mixing Messages: Graphic Design in Contemporary Culture”, a 1995 exhibition that examined some of the more radical approaches to art and design semiotics at that time.
In this era which may or may not be the waning years of the MAGA movement, McGlynn’s insistence on converting all we take for granted as omnipotent – corporate identification, thus money, thus power – into as minimal a visual statement as possible is ever more urgent and of the moment. In his June 29, 2017 article for Vulture, The Art World Needs a Jolt. The Electricity is Coming From Some Surprising Places, critic Jerry Saltz wrote, “Tom McGlynn — who was on the September 1991 cover of Artforum with an image that broke the heart in the classic “I [heart] NY” logo — writes how “tactical aesthetics and the systematic symbolization of the real are now employed by the radical right.” He traces this to Karl Rove, the Bush spokesmen, who dismissed “the reality-based community” and said, “we create our own reality.”
McGlynn continues to deftly transverse time through appropriation, finding new ways to conquer the radical. Control Group 1, 2019, inspired by witnessing the Old Masters at El Museo del Prado, particularly the secular work of early Goya and the ecclesiastic paintings of Rogier van der Weyden, finds McGlynn absorbing their saturated electric palettes, compressing five centuries of art history into a single panel. He describes the artists’ unique palettes [that] serve as the coded delivery system of their respective genres. These genres both contain and are influenced by these specific arrays of colors, which express their own phenomenal (ecstatic) reality, drawing a parallel with his own platform of formal invention.
McGlynn’s 2017 exhibition at RWFA, Station/Decal/Survey, culled paintings from the three series the title was derived from. In At Present, he extends his tendency of cryptic correlation of titles with social abstractions. The poetic analogies of the newer titles, such as Control Group, Target Audience, Focus Group, interject a human presence into the mix, alluding to the free-agency of the viewer to derive informal significance from this ostensibly formal work.
A 2019 recipient of the prestigious Sharpe- Walentas Studio Program residency in DUMBO, McGlynn has recently been occupied in his studio there working and reworking the infinitesimally well-crafted relationships between form, color, space and statement that are the earmarks of his art.