John White’s Solimar Beach Elements
Inspired by the elements that compose the beach near his home, John White began his most recent series Solimar Beach Elements based on his daily walks along the waterfront. He took the icons of the coast and reinterpreted them to create his own composition and to create a symbolic story for the viewer to discover. The works are enticing and captivating—they make you want to stand there and stare at them for a while to figure out his lexicon. The black squares become the oil rigs offshore and the lines emanating from them are indicative of the lights John can see from his window. Some of the lights then are broken up and covered with the red dots of the kelp and seaweed that pepper the sand. Football-like shapes represent fish in schools and porpoises as they pass by. The most literal he gets is with the waves as they crash onto shore, shown as lines of varying height painted in pale blue.
He likes his paintings to pull the audience in, a practice he began as a student at Otis. While watching over the gallery, he noticed far too many people would only glance at the paintings, not paying them full attention and giving them the respect and time they deserve. Never wanting that to happen to him, White began layering his paintings, adding more and more elements to coax the viewer into staying with them longer. His paintings are seductive and intellectual. The series began as black and white ink drawings and morphed into long wood panels that hearken back to ancient Chinese scrolls, dividing the space into three views of the same waterfront landscape. The most recent painting shows the Ventura River as it spills out into the ocean three times across the 12’ long painting—three interpretations of the same element shown in different ways.
There’s nothing too sweet about his work—baby pinks are balanced out by grungy oranges and entire sections are divided by harsh black lines softened by quirky white squiggles. Subtlety is key in White’s paintings and if something is too obvious, he reworks it until it’s more mystery novel than tween reading. His works are like books to be read and devoured, sometimes reading chapters over again just to relish in their beauty. That’s how John’s paintings are, and how I suggest you read them; over and over again.