by Orville O. Clarke, Jr.
(Boritzer/Gray/Hamano, Santa Monica) John Rose's constructions are a complex blend of woods, polymer, neon, and color. Employing biomorphic shapes, the artist creates a series of dancing/floating forms that conjure up endless possibilities of meaning. The dramas played out in the clash between various surfaces, textures and colors allow the viewer a platform to explore important facets of his/her own existence.
In looking at these forms, which run from lyrical to brash, we can see the flashes of the diverse path that the artist's life has taken him. Born and educated in England, traveling extensively throughout Asia, Rose lived in Hong Kong for six years, before moving to Los Angeles thirteen years ago. The clash of materials, surface textures, and natural verses mechanical within his sculptures reflects the struggle of various cultures to find equilibrium in a rapidly evolving world.
Ultimately, Rose's swirling forms serve as Zen Koans, allowing each of us to meditate upon their meaning. It is a meaning that will change not only with each viewer, but with our rapidly mutating emotions. Each of the varied forms dance, although they are contained by the gallery walls. The artist is challenging us to slowly peel away each layer of the surface until we lay bare the central core. The process is a metaphor for the journey we should be undertaking to search for our true center. The large number of varied shapes serve as a reminder of how complex and ever changing the human condition is.
Muscular Blunt is typical of the seductive nature of Rose's sculptures at their most lyrical. The interwoven poplar and pine forms create a swirling vortex that recalls the paths of atoms, or some other natural force. The strong, curvilinear, simple pine bands contain the tightly woven poplar core that seems to be gathering energy to break out of its constraints. One paper-thin band, sliced into small sections and hovering between the inner and outer boundaries, seems to have already begun the process. The contrast between the elegantly crafted inner core and the rough, almost unfinished nature of the outer section creates a dynamic tension that is softened by the subtle battle between the beige and white color that defines each range. We are allowed to get lost in our own contemplations within the swirling forms.
On the other hand, works like Sweet Palomino have a brashness and crudeness that replaces the oriental lyricism of the other pieces. The central vortex of these forms contain that most offensive symbol of our modern age, neon. This piece looks like some kind of spaceship invading our consciousness. The soft balance inherent in Muscular Blunt has evolved into a muscular and almost vulgar brashness; perhaps the alter ego of the former. The neon in the center pulses with electronic life, eradicating the subtlty of natural forms present in the first piece. The previous balance has been replaced by wooden forms that seem out to dominate each other. It is as if Sweet Palomino is the natural evolution of Muscular Blunt, a logical progression of form.
Just as Apollo must be contrasted with Dionysus to appreciate the beauty of all aspects of the human psyche, so Rose gives us these conflicting forms to be appreciated on their own respective merits. No one form is more important or better than the next, just different. It is in the recognition of this diversity that we can appreciate and understand beauty.