Review by Ehren Clark

“Points of Departure”
New Work by Justin Wheatley: 15th Street Gallery, March 21
By Ehren Clark

Before I was ready to write this piece on Justin’s work, his language of existentialism had become fluent to me. I would see a house, or a variety of house, city buildings of all shapes and sizes, monuments such as bridges and street laps, water towers and skyscrapers. The language I was speaking was the same as Justin’s, the language of existentialism, a language of questioning, questioning the reality of truth opposed to artifice. The artificial is found in the external and apparent by its physicality. Truth lies internally and the mystique of this language is that it is an open inquiry as the interior can never be in reality be made manifest with truth, the artifice of the exterior is no absolute signifier of the reality of what lies beyond it. The engagement with the mechanisms of these works such as age, color, style, iconography, graphics, etc, all are a play on significance leaving one guessing but truth to these questions have no answers.

From this vantage point the language, the interrogation, has been looking inward, an alternate approach finds the viewer looking outward and focusing on the physicality of the structural language of any canvas. The new works transcend the monumentality of hoses, city buildings, monuments, and skyscrapers and the presence of age, color, style, iconography, and graphics. With the older works the monumentality and physicality we indicative and mattered less than the truth of what lie beyond and the presence of qualities ranked lower in importance than the presence of the possibility of truth they signified, in the new works these are not only paramount the new works function as meaning is discovered by the full access to structure both physical and metaphysical and the structure taking the viewer beyond to question universal realities and universal truths. This is a different art and a different language and it is exciting.

A new piece yet to be titled boldly expresses this philosophy and is a journey of discovery. The structural points of departure in this canvas are limitless but can be reduced to two generals, and in any given structure, there is never a particular without an “other.” Nothing in the universe exists detachedly. Everything is connected to everything. So this canvas is ideal for a construction of this philosophy and a development of this language in these new works.

Two particulars chosen at random; the top tier of violet set against the pyramid tower and to the far right of the composition. Another particular; this a larger structure with components within it, the train platform half hidden with a hazed layer over it. What could their connectivity be? Experiential perhaps? I see a middle-aged lawyer on the platform on one of our infamous Utah “foggy” days. He stands there with a briefcase, the man who has everything, and says to himself, “What am I doing? I have nothing. I am barely alive. My only reason in life is to allow criminals having willfully committed crimes receive lesser sentence all for the sake of money.”

With a feeling of heaviness unlike any feeling he has ever known and a heart that is racing, he looks up to the south to a more open sky as he feels he cannot breath. In that sky there is an ethereal band of purplish hue cast on a level cloud reminding him that there is more to life than the world and there is more to the world than making money.But at the same time there is some relief and he feels he can breath again. He has seen ethereal beauty, he has seen it in nature, he knows there in more to life than the world there is more to the world than making money. He gets chills as he knows he can start again and he knows his possibilities are limitless. Experiential is also a wonderful manner to view any of Wheatley’s new works and feel very much involved with amazing dynamics ripe for analysis of meaning with infinite universal possibilities of significance. Structure, physical and metaphysical, is not just skin deep.