John Grillo, Untitled A, 1946, 19 1/2 x 20 inches, oil on canvas
In the years immediately after WW II, American painters grappling with the difficulty of finding a distinctly American path, adapted and extended the implications of cubism and surrealism, to achieve a new hybrid perpetuation of the language. In New York, Pollock loaded his quasi-figurative totemic compositions with Jungian references and symbols, DeKooning worked his way beyond cubism through Gorky in paintings like Pink Angels (1945). At the same time in San Francisco, John Grillo was experimenting with automatism, and creating luscious energetic painterly abstractions that helped point the way for a generation of West Coast painters. Grillo, now 97, hasn't received the notoriety of some of his New York contemporaries, but the paintings in this exhibition (which just closed at the David Findlay Jr Gallery) including 20 works from the mid '40s to the early '60s reveal the depth and clarity of his lively sensibility, and the substance of his contribution. Grillo's inventiveness is manifested in surprising poetic explorations that are freewheeling, fresh, and utterly without pretense. His paintings carve out and hold their own humble, playful, vital place in the rich history of postwar abstraction.
John Grillo, Untitled C, 1946, 72 x 23 1/2 inches, oil on canvas
John Grillo, Untitled Abstraction (#4827), 1949, 20 x 20 inches, oil on canvas
John Grillo, Untitled 27, 1952, 14 x 25 inches, oil on canvas
John Grillo, Untitled 22, 1952, 49 1/2 x 19 1/2 inches, oil on canvas
John Grillo, Untitled 19, 1962, 50 x 63 3/4 inches, oil on canvas
Images from the gallery website