Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Above, Jon Manteau’s painting at the SAGE Project space through Sunday, May 3rd.

There is something unmistakably confrontational about Jon Manteau’s painting in the SAGE Project space. It is hung on the second floor, floor to ceiling and at the very center of the entrance/exit of a spiral staircase. When walking up the stairs you just about have your face in it. Your eyes are filled with the multicolor swirls and crevices of an action impasto as if he was painting with a large sword.

There must have been a battle going on between Jon and this four piece paneled image. There is also the delight in finding those unexpected color and stroke conflicts that spill over from the chaos of this artist’s deliberate confrontation with his field of painting.

But look again on the way down the stairs after you have consumed the action and you will discover a battle that was highly structured from the corners in and the center out to the edges. Look at that painting. Look past the initial confrontation and then it becomes a handshake between you and Jon.

– A gut response to from Nic Coviello. Photo by Nic Coviello


  1. I think that a conversation on size always touches a nerve, even though it shouldn't. I agree that this piece is powerful, but in a good way. What Jon needs to be given credit for is the power his tiny pieces illicit, see the following image from the show as an example. http://tinyurl.com/crgpjx

    Even in these pieces, which are only about 12 inches or so, Jon is able to make a statement that is just as as strong as the 8 footers, and he does it without needing to push the color. All the other elements, the things that make his work unique, like surface and layering are there. Here is another angle of the large spiral piece that just happens to be in the spiral staircase. http://tinyurl.com/coygug

  2. I obviously did not say clearly enough what I mean about Jon's painting. It’s all about the engagement not the confrontation.
    This large scale painting has layered meanings: the first look draws a vortex that punctuates a bright complex and energy filled field in spite of a palette that could easily have become more somber. The second look is to get up close and let the work fill your entire field of view - and here it pulsates and then comes the third look. This one is more reflective picking and choosing pieces of the picture that resonate with color and movement and collisions that continue to engage you. And size does count!
    I don't agree that the small paintings have the weight or interest or attitude of the large paining. These small squares are like one-notes, like subplots to a big story. They have an easy elegance that is easy to like - I love them- but Jon can show more of who he is on a larger battlefield.
    Nic Coviello