For his second solo exhibition at Sundaram Tagore Gallery New York, Bruce Porter presents new paintings on a smaller, more intimate scale, yet with all the exuberant and epic imagery he’s known for. Applying oil and acrylic on canvas, Porter takes his inspiration from jazz, mythology, and New York City.
Lines and shapes collide and contract in Porter’s paintings to form a visual dialogue that echoes the rhythms of jazz. Like the musical form, Porter’s complex compositions convey a tension between improvisation and control. His use of color—neons mingle with hues reminiscent of the 1950s—reinforces this dynamism.
Porter boldly improvises in his paintings, yet also makes controlled, determined, highly meticulous gestures. He begins by applying multiple layers of gesso until the canvas is immaculately smooth. From there, he paints contours and shapes using tape to achieve absolute precision. The application of color follows.
Porter’s disparate imagery stems not from a contradictory variety of influences, but rather he weaves together diverse biographical elements. His paintings reference styles of graffiti and epitomize the energy of New York City, his home since the 1970s, while also channeling the nostalgic color palette of his childhood in Rochester, New York. Porter synthesizes these influences to create a graphic vernacular uniquely his own. He titles his pieces after Greek gods and other mythological figures. This nomenclature reflects Porter’s love of Greek myths and alludes to the visceral power of epic narrative.
Born in Rochester, New York, in 1948, Porter graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a BA and MFA. He moved to New York in the early 1970s, where he still lives and works. Porter’s paintings have been included in exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, The San Diego Museum of Art, as well as prestigious galleries such as Marian Goodman, Leo Castelli, and Tibor de Nagy. His works are included in the collections of Chase Manhattan Bank, Prudential Insurance, and the Art Bank Program of the U.S. State Department. Critic Carter Ratcliff first wrote about Porter in the Harold Reed Gallery’s 1979 exhibition catalogue New York, New Talent. Porter has taught in New York City at Columbia University, Hunter College, Parsons School of Design, and Brooklyn College.