Fredericks & Freiser Gallery, Inc., New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 2001
New York, Jessica Fredericks Gallery, Irish Paintings, October - December 1999
Long Island City, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, John Wesley Paintings 1961 - 2000, September - December 2000, pp. 122-123 and 186, illustrated in color
Venice, Fondazione Prada on San Giorgio Maggiore Island, John Wesley, June - October 2009, no. 658, pp. 395, 491 and 527, illustrated in color
Born in Los Angeles in 1928, John Wesley began his career painting imaginary seals and stamps. The two dimensionality and simplistic color scheme of these works caused many to associate him with the Pop Art movement yet unlike the impersonal narratives of many of his peers, Wesley's work is more than just an aesthetic mediation - it's alive with humor, emotion and sexuality. Fleshy pink paintings that are both erotic in content and in form are a celebration of the female figure.
Pacific, 1998, painted in Wesley's trademark blue and pink hues, exemplifies not only the artist's characteristic stylization and linearity but also the mischievous sexuality which would describe his later work. Although Wesley had lingered on erotic subjects during the first 30 years of his career, the 1990's marked the onset of his iconographic celebration of the female form. Leaving behind the stars, stripes and other relics of his earlier years, at the ripe old age of 60, the artist began a detailed examination of the human anatomy. Adopting a zoomed-in viewpoint, his late paintings give the viewer an up close and personal encounter with his sitters' sinous arms, open mouths and pink nipples.
We are drawn into the scene in the present work by the alluring red nails and lips of the Pacific ladies yet somehow they seem to be beyond our reach. Averting their gaze from our eyes, they exist merely as a voyeuristic fantasy. Like many of Wesley's heroines they inhabit an impenetrable world of which we can only catch a glimpse.
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