JUSTIN TEISL: THE LIGHT TAKES US
May 5th, 2023 – June 10th, 2023
In this collection produced over the last two years, Justin Teisl has infused his mixed media landscape paintings with an abundance of light. After a dark 2020, during which time Teisl produced a black and white series, he returned to his colorful paintings and added rays of sunlight to the compositions. This was a natural addition to his landscapes; for years he’s been focused on the light sky seen through gaps in trees, the detailed shapes created by that negative space, and the act of looking equally at an image’s positive and negative space. The new element of sunlight sets his paintings in a more specific setting: that golden hour when the sun is closing in on the horizon and providing dramatic and intense yet peaceful and bright light. Still, there is a subtle element of anxiety in Teisl’s work; in most of these pieces the image is doubled, with the second image being offset from the first. This creates a feeling of vibration, movement when it should be still – the concern about, or possibility of, imminent destruction.
Teisl’s paintings are made with layers of paint separated by many layers of clear epoxy resin. At up to three centimeters thick, these paintings have a physicality and subtle parallax effect that is best experienced in person. The images are all hand painted; in the case of the rays of light, each line is rendered with carefully thinned acrylic paint applied with a refillable marker against a straightedge. Solid shapes that define light between branches and leaves are meticulously rendered with very small paint brushes and a patient, steady hand. All very labor intensive and deliberate, Teisl’s work speaks to a desire for control in a world that’s unpredictable and chaotic.
Justin Teisl was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he grew up and attended college, earning his BFA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He later relocated to San Francisco and further established his dedicated art practice, showing regularly and becoming involved in the community by curating and hosting exhibitions for mostly local, emerging artists. Teisl’s work has been shown around the Bay Area including at Hang Art Gallery, Jules Maeght Gallery, and Uma Gallery; and in art fairs in San Francisco and Miami. Teisl now works out of his home studio in Oakland, where he continues to explore themes of nature and abstraction and materials, including epoxy resin and acrylic paints – all of which entered his repertoire while he was earning his BFA more than fifteen years ago. One of the newest members of artist-run Mercury 20 Gallery, this is Justin’s first solo exhibition here.