Artblog Celebrating 20 Years!   Support Us Today!

Weekly Update 1 – Two symbol painters


This week’s Weekly has my review of two painting shows: Jaime Treadwell at Cerulean and P. Timothy Gierschick‘s at Green Line Powelton. Below is the copy with some pictures. More photos at flickr. And see Libby’s posts here and here.

X Symbols
Two Philly painters play the subconscious like a banjo.

The most successful artists use symbolism in an elliptical or ambiguous manner that allows humans to do what they do best—decode the subtext. Humans are natural decoders; we’ve been interpreting signs since the cradle. It’s not for nothing that car ads feature beautiful women caressing or looking longingly at the vehicle. Buy the car and get sex. It’s crude but it works.

P. Timothy Gierschick II and Jaime Treadwell are two young Philadelphia artists whose work is fueled by symbolism.

P. Timothy Gierschick at Green Line Cafe, Powelton

P. Timothy Gierschick
P. Timothy Gierschick II, Double Cure, detail, at Green Line Cafe, Powelton

Gierschick’s paintings at Green Line Cafe in Powelton use ready-made symbols like hearts, circles, arrows and Xs to create works that speak of relationships, hopes, movement and stasis.

In several pieces Gierschick paints the outline of a symbol on top of a collage of found medical prescriptions. The scripts and signs whisper of human frailty, life, death, hope and love. In Knot, a painted knot-shaped white cloud floats inside a rainbow halo that mimics the knot’s shape. The image evokes happiness—a fluffy cloud within a cheery rainbow—but Knot could also refer to a nasty problem in disguise.

P. Timothy Gierschick
Voice (small) 2007. latex and enamel on found panel, by Gierschick

Voice, which shows a rainbow-colored X inside a painted white cloud, is either “X marks the spot” (where all is revealed) or Band-Aids over the mouth, closing off the voice. The works’ ambiguity—especially Gierschick’s subversion of the rainbow—calls for a slow read.

Jaime Treadwell at Cerulean
Jaime Treadwell’s brightly colored landscape and figure paintings are symbolic tableaux. Pink—the shade in overwhelming evidence—colors the sky, the land and the people in it, and is itself a symbol of sickness in a post-apocalyptic world. Unlike Gierschick’s works, Treadwell’s paintings aren’t ambiguous. They’re clear cautionary tales.

Jaime Treadwell
Alone II, detail, 20×28″ oil on panel , Jaime Treadwell. The symbolic bandaid over the mouth and the symbolic apple from the Garden of what is clearly not Eden.

Uniformed children—some with missing limbs—play in militaristic vehicles. Treadwell includes high fashion models in ’50s-era splendor posing for postapocalyptic Carnival Cruise Lines. The children aren’t particularly fierce, yet there’s weirdness in their faces.

Hunter, oil on panel 14x20. Old masterly veneer applied to futurist subject matter.
Hunter, oil on panel 14×20. Old masterly veneer applied to futurist subject matter.

They’re like Caleb Weintraub’s ballistic babies seen at Projects Gallery last fall. In this world everyone wears a buglike helmet with an antenna that makes them look like they’re receiving messages from Big Brother. Several works replace the pink with dark brown voids of sea and sky, evoking the dark night of the soul and the dark varnish of a Dutch master’s painting.

Jaime Treadwell
Jaime Treadwell, Exile 2, oil on panel, 14×20″ at Cerulean Gallery.

The young girl in a boat in Exile II wears a Vermeer-like tunic and white blouse, and stares out serenely, evoking Thomas Eakins’ The Champion Single Sculls (Max Schmitt in a Single Scull). Treadwell, quoting from the masters, is like them in that his concern for humans and his love of nature is real.

“Neo-Pink: New Paintings by Jaime Treadwell”
Through Sept. 21.
Cerulean Arts
1355 Ridge Ave. 267.514.8647.

P. Timothy Gierschick II: “New Work”
Artist’s Reception, Fri., Sept. 14, 7-9pm. Free. Through Sept. 28.
Green Line Cafe
3649 Lancaster Ave. 215.382.2143.