John Pomara


at Barry Whistler


The abstract paintings of Dallas native John Pomara, who has been exhibiting since the 1980s, hang with a certain authority on the gallery wall. For the past several years he has painted on aluminum panels that project just enough to give them an objectlike presence (all works 2009 or ’10). He covers the panels (either 72 by 48 or 47 by 36 inches) in oil enamel, first applying a layer of rich black and blue that he allows to dry, and then a creamy white that he drags across the surface. Sometimes he applies the white in thin washes that allow the dark underpainting to show through like shadows; other times he leaves thick, opaque areas with what appear to be soft, yielding surfaces. (It looks like a squeegee was used, but he is closemouthed about technique.)

In this show, most of the paintings were vertically oriented and composed with a scraped-away stripe running from top to bottom at the center. The blurring effects and softened edges resulting from Pomara’s scraping suggest an object rushing by and barely caught out of the corner of the eye—a feeling of speed, despite the slow, multipart process. Considering the title of this show, “Arrivals and Departures,” the stripes could be read as those on a roadway or runway.

Although he has orchestrated every surface effect, Pomara goes to some length to keep any trace of his hand from the finished work. But a metaphor for the artist’s unobtrusiveness emerges in “Digital d,” a series of abstract inkjet prints produced at the same scale as the paintings. Their palette is dark, dominated by black and acidic green, and some areas have a pixelated look, as though the image had been achieved through digital enlargement. In several prints, a black shape evokes a shadowy head and upper torso silhouetted against a glowing computer screen. It is as if we are looking over someone’s shoulder as he creates the works—perhaps Pomara himself. In other prints the black shape is larger, appearing like an enormous black sun, either rising or setting in a green sky.

Photo: John Pomara: Arrival and Departure no. 1, 2009, oil enamel on aluminum, 72 by 48 inches; at Barry Whistler.