Jason Rohlf’s paintings are abstract, yet conjure ideas of maps or stories. In the exhibition “Kismet,” on view at Tory Folliard Gallery, endless rings of circles, rows of arches, hanging diamonds and more play out in bright acrylic colors, sometimes painted on the relatively modest materials of shop rags or tarps.
Why the ideas of maps or stories? While Rohlf’s work is filled with geometric shapes and lines, their hand-drawn quality retains an organic nature. Discreet splashes and spatters of paint throw forth an energy that keeps arrangements from getting stale and instead invests them with a state of liveliness.
Mystic #3 glows with a bright pink background and waterfalls of curved lines in deep blue mingled with purple. Semicircular beads of lemon yellow and orange frame the top of the composition like a glistening curtain, but the painting’s surface treatment of aqua and white speckles, fallen like rain, add another layer. Given the mystical nature of the title, it is like searching through veils, with every level seeming both solid and gossamer at the same time.
New sculptures by Jeremy Popelka in his exhibition “Gravity” are also on view, and it is a good pairing as his figurative pieces share this type of synthesis. Inspired by his recent time in Thailand, Popelka fashions masks out of glass, incorporating textured surfaces that reference symbolic concepts. Info Mask is one of the most striking, as a squarish red face with a dark, cavernous mouth is subtly decorated with text and letters. Machine Mask and Forest Mask bear the marks of hardware bits and sticks, respectively, that change and alter the surface of the figure into something totemic.
Elegantly direct are his car sculptures, each cast and assembled in a way that their bright colors shine like confections. There is one in amber, another in red and a charming blue example simply titled Beater, which nonetheless looks in fine condition.
While Rohlf and Popelka are showing new work, the gallery is also hosting a display of pieces by many other artists on their roster, offering an even larger sampling of art to view.
Through Nov. 25 at Tory Folliard Gallery, 233 N. Milwaukee St.
Kat Kneevers is a Milwaukee-based writer, musician, and artist. During the several years she has been covering art, the scene has evolved in many ways and she looks forward to sharing her observations with you.