Text by Terry R. Myers
John Wesley: A Collection is published on the occasion of the exhibition of the same name at Zwirner & Wirth in New York in 2006. The exhibition presented a uniquely focused selection of works from the 1960s to the 1980s by the influential American painter John Wesley. this group of work comes from one of the largest private collection of paintings by the artist.
Using a distinctive comic book style, Wesley has made consistent use of a limited color palette and a carefully refined, stylized graphic vocabulary. The artist implements a deliberately flat spatial quality in his canvases; about his work, he has stated, “My paintings are as flat as I can make them. They’re not supposed to look like paintings. They’re supposed to look more like banners, or posters, or something.” Though often associated with the pop artists of his generation, Wesley’s canvases complicate their co-optation of commercial iconography by presenting narrative scenes that address the realm of the imagination and the strangeness of everyday life. By combining traditional emblems, historical figures, nudes, comic book characters, and animals, Wesley presents a broad range of references in canvases that take up the theme of the human psyche. His paintings distinctively meld together elements of pop, minimalism, and surrealism, which may explain why artists ranging from Donald Judd to several of today’s contemporary painters have been profoundly attracted to his work.
This fully-illustrated catalogue is accompanied by a text by Los Angeles-based art critic Terry R. Myers.