Brainstorm: Javier López Barbosa and jd Hansen

Lauren Tresp | THE magazine - July 30, 2014

 jd Hansen, Orchard, bronze, 30” x 10” x 8”, 2013

Two artists explore the realm of psychology and emotion in the current exhibition "Brainstorm" at Mark White Fine Art. Santa Fe-based Javier López Barbosa creates expressive, colorful abstractions on canvas, and California-based sculptor jd Hansen’s bronze figures capture the subtleties of body language and the permutations of mood. The pairing of these two bodies of work was a wise curatorial choice: the exuberance and dynamism of López Barbosa’s paintings complement the gravity and refinement of jd Hansen’s bronzes.

López Barbosa, born and raised in Mexico, has lived and worked in Santa Fe since 1984. An entirely self-taught artist, he has been creating art works since he was a young boy. Using oil and other media, his luminous fields of color are the result of a glazing technique in which layers of transparent paint are applied over expanses of opaque pigment. The layering of the oils creates a lucid, dimensional surface that captures light and glows from within.

The artist’s energetic canvases echo the traditions of Abstract Expressionism and color-field painting. Passionate gestures and an intensely bright palette express big, heartinflating emotions. Like standing on top of a mountain, or young, intrepid love, Barbosa’s paintings soar into higher realms of heightened sensation and unimpeachable joy. Titles such as "Benevolence," "Uplifting", and "Mystic Abstraction" convey a commitment to euphoric ideals. The artist’s sincere positivity is reflected in vivid hues of azure, magenta, and tangerine floating in expanses of spacious white and accentuated with penetrating black. In "Apparition of Emotion," expanses of rich orange and red accumulate against a backdrop of white and cool creamy blues, like clouds forming on the horizon. The soft, expansive backdrop suggests the depth of possibility and reserves space for transformation and growth. The intense red clouds are also accentuated with black. The darkness amid light suggests planes of color that have yet to unfurl, as though the painting may continue to transform as the viewer gazes upon it.

jd Hansen’s subtle, understated bronze figures present a corollary to Barbosa’s sumptuous, utopian panels. These blocky and weighty sculpted figures are visually accessible at first glance, yet reward prolonged observation. The sculptor creates nuanced portraits by stripping down the details of each subject to the features essential to communicating subtle ranges of human expression.

Alternating smooth surfaces with rough and angular shapes, the artist infuses complex emotional states into simple, relatable figures. Such minutiae as the slope of a shoulder, the placement of a hand, and the tilt of a head are given careful attention and result in highly nuanced perceptions into mood and body language. The minimalist, stripped down stylization contributes to a feeling of naked vulnerability in her subjects.

The sculpture "Best of Show" looks like anything but. The horse’s head hangs and the jockey is perched diminutively on the edge of the saddle. While a best of show winner would display certain idealistic characteristics, the horse and its rider are captured in a moment of reprieve touched with the soft vulnerability of loss. The contradiction between the title and the content pulls at the slippage between idealistic societal expectations and the reality of imperfection. "Orchard" represents the abstracted likeness of a woman. The rough and jagged surface infuses her draped clothing with the rugged textures of an orchard, with craggy, linear folds akin to wood and bark. The woman rests one hand on her hip, a hunchedover posture that communicates enduring effort in the service of difficult labor. These two bodies of work meditate on the human psyche and experiment with the diverse abilities that color, form, and material have for communicating the internal worlds of human experience. Since both artists contemplate the inner workings of the heart, "Brainstorm" might just as well have been called "Heartstorm."