Portland art blog + news + exhibition reviews + galleries + contemporary northwest art

recent entries

2019 1st links
2018 Summary
End of 2018 Links
PNCA + OCAC Merger Off
Loss of Material Evidence at Hoffman Gallery
Hoffman Gallery Changes at Lewis and Clark?
1st Weekend Picks
Meow Wolf The Movie
Giving Thanks Readings
Meet RACC's new leader Madison Cario
November Reviews
Early November Links

recent comments



Book Review
Calls for Artists
Design Review
Openings & Events
About PORT

regular contributors


Tori Abernathy
Amy Bernstein
Katherine Bovee
Emily Cappa
Patrick Collier
Arcy Douglass
Megan Driscoll
Jesse Hayward
Sarah Henderson
Jeff Jahn
Kelly Kutchko
Drew Lenihan
Victor Maldonado
Christopher Moon
Jascha Owens
Alex Rauch
Gary Wiseman



Guest Contributors
Past Contributors
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005

contact us


Contact us






powered by


Movable Type 3.16

This site is licensed under a


Creative Commons License

Thursday 03.19.15

« Monday Links | Main | Friday Links »

Jonah Porter's Kiasmus

Sqlit-Liqs from Kiasmus

In a gallery free of explanatory texts, price tags and an official name, we find four paintings by local artist Jonah Porter. We see vellum, mesh fabric and fiberglass in support of black ink, latex and spray paint. Everything is on the wall. Everything is black, dark blue, grey or white. Everything is bleak and magical, lush and sparse.

Freaky Ibiza

Porter's materials, like mesh and acetate, create a pleasant tension between the porous and the impermeable. We partially see through the layers of the work and around its edges, creating the physical sensation of beholding an object while allowing focus on the spaces between and behind. Porter's material abstraction is further tempered by his restrained use of text and letter form. The newsprint in "untitled" is untethered to linguistic meaning because a veil of grey mesh obscures the newspaper's words beyond legibility.


Yet we do find some discernable letters in the strongest work in the show "Sqlit-Liqs" which drapes 3D printed letterform over a solidly black and white abstraction surrounded by a loose line of black spray paint. The artist's choice to directly feature two semi-words deplete of concise implication yet visually referencing an alphabetic reversal is explained through the title the exhibition "Kiasmus," a variation on the literary term chiasmus which indicates letters, words or phrases repeated in reverse order.

Sqlit-Liqs (detail)

Thusly, the work creates a sense of delicate fence-sitting and bifurcation. Letters are reversed and so are colors. Black and white constitutes a palette of pure inversion. Materials are inverted as well. Mesh flip-flops between there and gone. Vellum is both opaque and transparent. Letterform is an exercise in positive and negative space. Porter's invented words can be read and yet they can't be understood. This tension between the presence and absence of meaning defines the exhibition. It makes total sense that we experience a minimalist draining of form simultaneous to a filling-in of convoluted connotation.

July 22 (detail)

However firm his local status (Porter was raised in Portland and is currently a fourth-year at PNCA) the work addresses global trends and upon graduation I feel certain he'll move on and try his hand in some metropolis. He spent last summer in New York working construction for an art gallery. His art certainly has the grit of 80's New York, reminiscent of Christopher Wool's hardcore abstraction and wordplay. Then I think of Brice Marden's mostly monochromes, full of restrained indulgence and indulgent restraint. And yes, that was chiasmus and yes, Porter does get me thinking. Notorious art-world dualities quickly come to mind but I can't find this artist's tipping point. Porter somehow splits the stylistic difference between Rauschenberg and Johns, between Richter and Polke. In older words, "Kiasmus" is both Dionysian and Apollonian.

Kiasmus area view (In the historic career launching space that Nil, Field and Tractor once occupied in the Everett Station Lofts)

Porter's work also makes me think of visual cues outside of fine art. I think of optical illusions, black and white yet so unclear, giving us one image that turns into two with implications about perception and cognition that creep toward the infinite. He makes me think of fashion. Metallic greys and a tactile black recollect a weathered leather jacket and tarnished zipper. His use of mesh feels soft-goth, like a quiet scream in a "Twilight" film. The paintings certainly reflect the darkness of the contemporary urban landscape reminding me of a Kanye video. Musically speaking, Porter is more in tune with house music, you know, the incessant beating of a heart long drained of blood. So again I am bolstered knowing that art will never die but fear the dreaded rise of "zombie formalism", a term of derision passed around by Jerry Saltz. If the undying arts are all we have left, would that really be such a bad thing? And for now, let's just call it painting.

Jonah Porter @ 328 NW Broadway
Open Friday & Saturday 12:00-4:00
Exhibition Closes on March 25th

Posted by Jesse Hayward on March 19, 2015 at 12:46 | Comments (0)


Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?

s p o n s o r s
Site Design: Jennifer Armbrust   •   Site Development: Philippe Blanc & Katherine Bovee