Visual Arts

Julon Pinkston's "Nailed" Is a Disappointment

Sometimes an artist is inspired to proceed in a certain direction, but the direction to a viewer may seem the opposite - uninspired.

This is the case with Julon Pinkston's solo show, "Nailed" at Zoya Tommy Gallery. There are two very different approaches shown, though both feature nails. As one enters the intimate gallery, there is a work titled The Westmont Event, then The Westmont Event 2, then The Westmont Event 3, then The Westmont Event 4. They have varying compositions, but all are acrylic paint on nails on a charred wood panel, 2 feet by 2 feet. or larger. There is a fifth similar work, Tumbleweed Tornado Fire.

The second approach also uses acrylic paint on nails, but the nails are displayed against a more neutral background than charred wood, and the works are considerably larger.

I don't always read an artist's statement, as I believe the art should speak for itself. But I turned to it here, more or less in desperation. It read, "In his current work he creates impasto paintings along with paint made to look and feel like ubiquitous objects relating to his studio practice like duct tape, plywood, red stickers using acrylic paint as a medium. " This didn't help me much, but I gather it means using pushpins or nails to transform a painting into a sculpture.

The statement went on to conclude, "His work explores the transformity of acrylic painting as a media (sic) while maintaining a seductive, elegant quality." To me, at least, the works seemed painstaking and detailed, but they almost all lacked interest and failed to intrigue, much less seduce. And elegance was notably absent.

This gallery consistently shows varied and fascinating artists, some in group shows and some in solo exhibitions, so I was surprised to find myself disappointed here.

The Woodmont series is dark, somber, serious. It is inscrutable without being intriguing. There are scores of nails, perhaps hundreds, so it is obviously a painstaking project. It doesn't seem, however, to "give" the viewer much. It suggests emotional involvement by the artist, but failed to generate involvement with this viewer. Perhaps it references a real-life event at Woodmont; if so, it would have been useful to cite it in some of the written material at the gallery.

The other paintings, most of them, are a different story. They tend to be strange, almost verging on grotesquerie, though short of being repellent. The work here again is painstaking, but it seemed equally inscrutable. I liked best a black and white work, Spring Hide Sight. A green one titled Migratory Behavior had an attractive background.

Pinkston is not above using a title to suggest broader significance, and one painting is titled And so the Words Died Away Into a Donkey's Bray.

The exhibition is titled "Nailed", and its central theme is showcasing a plethora of acrylic-topped nails as a valuable medium. Other artists may be intrigued by this, though I am not. It may be a case of one aspect of creation, the nails, becoming so fascinating to the artist that other elements are neglected.

I may be wrong, so why not go to the gallery and judge for yourself?

Julon Pinkston: Nailed, continues through January 3,at Zoya Tommy Gallery. 4411 Montrose, Unit F, open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., 713-523-7424,

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Jim Tommaney