A life-long devotee to both the formal and psychological properties of abstraction, Britton Tolliver’s painting practice has come to embrace the vacillation between chaos and structure. The influence of these opposing yet complementary forces can be traced back to the artist’s creative origins—Tolliver made his first artworks in his early twenties while serving time in prison. In practice, he discovered geometric abstraction to be a powerful tool for liberation and it has been his predominant perceptual filter ever since, allowing him to metaphorically reference the hallucinogenic experiments and subsequent traumas that defined this period of his life, while embracing intuition as an expansive expression of freedom.
The paintings in Bend To Play take Tolliver’s technique of pushing paint through sieve-like grids and applies it to an array of complex biomorphic shapes. Plateaus of paint slabs are excavated to reveal Richteresque seas of squeegeed abstraction, brushless color fades reminiscent of light and space installations, and glowing lines that meander like graph vectors undone by their own frenetic energy. These sculptural painting techniques reveal an athleticism mixed with a propensity for problem solving—the paintings recall vacuumed-formed topographical maps with microcosmic paint cliffs and pools teeming with the polymorphic genes of Fetish Finish and 1970s pop culture. Each work in Bend To Play glimpses a journey through multiple realities, finite and infinite.
Britton Tolliver (b. 1976, Kingsport, Tennessee) earned an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI, and BFA from East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. He has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles; Joshua Liner Gallery, New York; Left Field Galley, San Luis Obispo (with Shara Hughes); Durden and Ray, Los Angeles; HilgerBROTKunsthalle, Vienna; and GOLDEN, Chicago. Group exhibitions include Painting in Place, Los Angeles Nomadic Division, Los Angeles, CA; Steven Bankhead, Britton Tolliver, Torbjörn Vejvi, Samuel Freeman Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; The Road, Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA; Baker's Dozen, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA; and Working Title, Bronx River Art Center, Bronx, NY.