press release

This exhibition of paintings and drawings by John Altoon (1925-1969), the first at Luise Ross Gallery and the first in New York since 1985, spans the last seven years of his short life, during which time his mature style emerged. Gestural abstraction has given way to pensive and restrained airbrushing, exuberant sexual tableaux, and the elimination of illusory space in his non-objective paintings. Altoon distilled his production to include only the bare pictorial essentials, with the result that his canvases became the arena for the focused portrayal of his subconscious, as well as the surreal circus of sexual fantasy. Biomorphisms, tertiary colors, and delicate formal rhymes and balances characterize the work, which is replete with psychological tension and fraught with an underlying desire to express the self’s inherent disgruntlements with the compromises necessary for social collectiveness. The work is honest, intensely personal, and uniquely nonconformist.

John Altoon
Paintings and Drawings 1961-1967