Tom Savage's paintings in Love Notes from the West bring widespread calamity to TW Fine Art after traveling from California to Brisbane, Australia. Savage serves up iconography that recalls abstract expressionism while allowing for choreographed disruptions of representational and symbolic forms that bring about nebulous underlying narratives.
Savage overloads the canvas with sporadic and disjointed marks that delineate a sense of confusion as undulating crests of paint fight each other for supremacy. Moments of scrawled drawing interject over expansive, painterly marks to bring occasional structure, both aesthetic and narrative, to the raw canvas that lies below. In "Highway Drama," these linear decisions evoke depictions of botanical forms that seem to float in space. In contrast, the same drawn marks bring a sense of perspective and landscape to "Bamboozled," which breaks down the barriers between abstraction and the representational depth of the picture plane. This work becomes a self contained and somewhat controlled image that stands in contrast to Savage's other paintings that leave more to the imagination with gestural and intuitive mark making like in "1216135Y."
The violent beauty and energy espoused by Savage's works leave him in a class of painters who eschew the traditional formalism of compositional unification in exchange for captivating density and movement. Economy of line is shunned entirely, and this lack of concern for order leaves Savage in parallel with some contemporaries like Albert Oehlen or Michael Williams. Nevertheless, even through clouds of muddy and hazy space, Savage displays a unique, perhaps even resistant, sense as a colorist. In "X-Ray Thoughts," his heavenly purple strokes play off of screaming greens, subdued reds, and whites that seem to shift in opacity at the same time as they flirt with warm and cool undertones. These instances of painterly genius are showstopping.
However, the underlying narratives of Savages work are what hold the viewer beyond the beautiful aesthetic quandary. They shift and mutate, leading the viewer down a rabbit hole that seems grounded in reality yet incomprehensible with no beginning or end. In situ, the group of paintings that Savage has organized at TW Fine Art leave a multitude of discontinuing storylines that stack one over another to create a sense of infinity. That is, Savage finds poetry in the chaos and confusion of everyday life.
TW Fine Art's continuing campaign to bring together disparate and challenging painters from all over the globe pays off in this exhibition in Brisbane as Savage breaks down the systems and rules of painting to create disorderly yet poetic verve that simultaneously addresses American abstraction and referential or symbolic painting.