John Wesley: Works on Paper 1961-2005
Edited by Martin Hentschel. Essays by Martha Schwendener.
In the 1960s, John Wesley's works were labeled Pop art. While some would protest, it's true that his distinctive, comics-inspired lines, his American themes and his enigmatic eroticism had a striking influence on both Pop and a younger generation. This retrospective covers 45 years of stylistically consistent work, from before Pop to after it, including some 100 drawings and gouaches from Wesley's own studio and from private collections, organized in a first attempt to shed light on this wide-ranging oeuvre in terms of the processes by which it came into being, and to analyze the incongruous profundity of the results. Wesley's paintings, although they refer to downmarket aesthetics and mundane American life, nonetheless have an exceptionally meditative, even spiritual effect: they wrest from the ordinary all the big themes that have played in occidental figurative painting, including passion, love, hate, greed, failure, malice, self-importance and dreams, as well as an entirely contemporary ambiguity and humor. With essays by Martin Hentschel and Martha Schwendener.