Laying it on

As part of a three-venue super exhibit this month, Les Yeux du Monde gives up a bit of wall space for oil paintings by former UVA art professor Ted Turner. It’s more than a worthy sacrifice. 
In notes accompanying the exhibit, Turner says, “I stopped trying to find the perfect landscape or scene, and instead I decided just to paint whatever I saw… regardless of the subject matter.” 
That statement certainly applies to his work on display at Les Yeux. Practically every painting on display contains at least one of the following objects: building-like shapes, people-like shapes, and cars– all in scenes anybody would come across any time of day just by walking up the street. Turner makes these commonplace images his own, however, with broad slabs of color and roughly textured layers of paint so thick that it’s surprising the paint didn’t slide off the canvas before it dried. “Love at the Watercooler,” for example, is so caked with paint that it looks like a topographical map. 
Turner’s unique use of paint has a decided effect on his work, almost as if he had invented his own painterly equivalent of a computer screen. His thick layers of paint simplify his land- and streetscapes while mildly abstracting them as well. In his spare scenes, people’s heads are dime-sized dollops of paint, and large triangles and rectangles of color double as sidewalks and walls, beach and building facades.
In a smaller group of paintings, Turner takes a fairly different approach. Unlike his landscapes, these are tightly-framed, cluttered paintings– character studies which substitute graffiti scrawl and a child-like drawing style for blocks of color. As reflected in titles like “Out of the Way, Meathead,” Turner also injects these with a bit of wiseguy humor. Even here, however, Turner’s canvases come heavy with paint and color, a vibrant dimension that almost seems to live separately from the pictures he paints.

Ted Turner’s paintings, watercolors, and constructions are at Les Yeux du Monde as part of a collaborative exhibit with UVA’s Fayerweather Gallery and the Merchant’s Tire Building. Work by Turner’s students will be on display at Fayerweather with an opening reception Friday, June 7, 5-7pm. On June 8, from 4 to 6pm, there’s a reception for Turner at Les Yeux, where the hours are  Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-5pm. Catch Turner’s sculpture at the Merchant’s Tire Building (856 W. Main St.) Tuesday through Friday, 11am-2pm, and Saturday 1-6pm. All the exhibits run through July 6. Les Yeux is at 705 W. Main St. 973-5566

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