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Thursday, October 06, 2011

The icing on the cake: Clint Jukkala's paintings at Giampietro Gallery

Fred Giampietro Folk Art, Antiques and Contemporary Art
315 Peck St., New Haven, (203) 777-7760
Clint Jukkala: Even If and Especially When
Through Oct. 7, 2011.

Clint Jukkala's work, as I've known it, has always been defined by its expressive geometric abstraction. Earlier paintings often brought to mind—for me, at least—computer circuitry or networks. And yet, Jukkala's commitment to the quirkiness of the hand-painted line lent those paintings an engaging warmth that balanced their technological allusions.

Geometric abstraction and the wandering nature of the line still characterize Jukkala's paintings. But the series showing in the Giampietro Gallery evidence a fundamental evolution in Jukkala's approach, particularly in reference to texture.

The title of the show—Even If and Especially When—is taken from the title of a 1990's album by the psychedelic garage band Screaming Trees. While I would hesitate to call these paintings "psychedelic"—despite the often bold and sometimes clashing colors—their abstract depiction of portals does bring to mind Aldous Huxley's "doors of perception."

As I recall Jukkala's older works, I remember them as featuring flat fields of color. Here, Jukkala—often using both oils and acrylics—ranges from painting watery, translucent expanses of paint to thick impasto building on the surface like cake frosting.

His use of color and the materiality of the paint is further enriched by blending different hues in some areas and striating the surface in others. Jukkala's play with texture and coloration creates tension between a perceived sense of depth and, at the same time, a perceived flattening of the surface.

In paintings like "Mirage" and "Common Occurrences," it feels like we are looking through a window at, respectively, a gradient blue sky over a turbulent blue sea or a yellow sky streaked with washes over a foreground of thickly applied red, brown and orange riven with horizontal ravines. Still, these suggestions of landscape are contained within framings that resist representational interpretation. Jukkala manages a fine balancing act between kineticism and control.

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