THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER: PAINTINGS BY TIMOTHY P. OJILE
Color and form take a departure from the norm in artist Timothy P. Ojile’s latest exhibition at The Koa Art Gallery
“There needs to exist a need to express something,” opened artist Timothy P. Ojile (pronounced oh-jye-el) at a recent talk at the Koa Art Gallery. The students and patrons that filled the small yet neatly curated exhibition space crowded around on the floor and in chairs to hear the artist and professor speak about his work. Looming over you with a certain unexplainable gravitas, artist Timothy P. Ojile’s “paintings,” as he very simply calls them, are quite literally larger than life, with several works measuring over six feet in height.
Originally from Minneappolis, Minnesota, Ojile now lives and works out of Honolulu, Hawaii. When away from the studio, he teaches art at the Linekona Academy Art Center at the Honolulu Academy of Arts. Two of his courses, entitled Intuitive Painting and Beyond Boundaries, serve as accurate descriptors of how he functions as an artist. Taking a departure from his earlier aesthetic styles, Ojile has chosen to explore a more expressionistic, emotive and non-objective voice in Paintings.
Ojile’s works are on large pieces of paper as opposed to canvas. He expresses a particular predilection towards the medium. “It’s incredibly satisfying to work with paper. Especially large ones like these,” he says, pointing to a piece entitled “Ode.” “You find that you have to stand on top of the paper while working and your body really becomes one with the work.”
The aesthetic variations, products of this corporeal meshing, are bold, colorful, and perhaps most evidently, abstract. In talking about abstraction, there exists an allusion to a certain departure from reality. The aesthetic manifestations of this, then, are in stark contrast to the naturalistic (and often representational) objectivism found in earlier examples of Western art. We were first introduced to this ideal in the early 20th century when a movement known as minimalism emerged via innovators from every walk of trade, from visual artist Donald Judd to composer Igor Stravinsky. The emergence of a pared-down aesthetic through non-objectivism in the arts presented a particularly enigmatic conundrum, in that it embodied a furthering of the already elusive abstraction.
It might at first be difficult to decipher what Ojile’s works are about because of the absence of any immediate or recognizable symbolism. As viewers, we are accustomed to relating and making associations with representational aspects in art. The non-objective nature of Ojile’s works make it difficult to do this. I have a feeling, though, that these representational aspects that we have unknowingly become so dependent upon are present within these compositions. There’s a certain sadness about the work despite the deceptively bright color schema; Ojile created the majority of the works in Paintings in response to a recent passing in his immediate family.
In a composition entitled “Guardian,” a bold spattering of red dominates the center of the piece. Other colors like yellow and brown complement the visceral crimson, while bold masses of black adorn the compositions. What perhaps brings the work to life most are the incarnadines that weave amidst the bolder colors. The visceral elements present in Ojile’s works recall strong physical emotions that range from awe and sadness to anger and repulsion.
ARTiculations is a blog on culture and the arts by Carolyn Mirante for FLUX Hawaii. Carolyn is a Honolulu-based art critic and Owner/Director of the Gallery of Hawaii Artists (GoHA), an alternative exhibition space dedicated to the contemporary arts in Hawai’i.