In Flotsam and Jetsam, Jonathan Ching explores the possibilities presented by the triptych as a form: all the paintings in the exhibition are in three panels. A triptych, said Ching, allows an artist to break up a picture both physically and metaphorically. “I can choose to juxtapose images that may or may not be related, and present a new take on them as an image or idea.”
Luscious flowers done in pink and blue impasto are bracketed by abstract forms borrowed from walls smeared with tar and graffiti. On panels of unequal width, slender branches garlanded by blossoms spring forth from rusted scissor gates left open. Elsewhere, two lotuses are left to float in a puddle of mud. In Ching’s still life compositions, Mother Nature’s refined bounty is almost always cut off by urban grit. The arrangement isn’t necessarily an indictment—Ching makes no overt claims. Rather, his re-contextualization encourages more thoughtful viewing: delicate petals become even more so when they are surrounded by dark ocean waves.
Beyond considering the triptych as form, Flotsam and Jetsamshowcases Ching’s gestural technique: eddies of pigment swirl about his canvases with great energy, imbuing his subjects with a certain joie de vivre. Eyeing the surface of his textured work reveals gobbets of paint clinging to each other, creating miniature peaks and valleys that keep to the painterly rhythm of his hand. — ll