On the Jagged Edge: Paintings by Jack Millard in Catskill, N.Y.

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Jack Millard’s Orange Parrot. Photo by Ryder Cooley.


Catskill Artist Cottage
22 Livingston St. Catskill, NY
June 17th – July 31, 2018

Jack Millard’s abstract geometric art is a bit nostalgic, even of the seventeenth-century:  René Descartes and his boxy two-dimensional world lurks beneath Millard’s puzzling shapes that eschew mathematics and embrace pure imagination.  Millard’s titles are really postfixes and merely convey impressions made on the artist, like Debussy’s practice in composing his Préludes.  Millard’s block images also fondly suggest the bygone days of primitive pixelated graphics of forty years ago. One might have played an early Nintendo and have seen something like his black-and-white “Night Creatures.”

Line in the Sand, Codex, Night Creatures by Jack Millard. Photo by Ryder Cooley

Some patterns congeal in colorful tessellations, while others concentrate on a pair of images in one color against a pattern relief in another. My attention was drawn to “Orange Parrot,” a very abstract figure with browns, oranges and some chaos of color.  I began to recall that mathematical rage, John Conway’s “Game of Life.”  Clusters of squares are placed on a grid in which “rules” for square survival, depletion and propagation are applied by a computer program. Conway’s “cellular automation” algorithm then transforms the canvas in ways that seem hauntingly reminiscent of Millard’s works.  Conway’s Game, which became a prophetic reminder of how neighboring societies and regions can ossify or decay in a flurry of contention, was popular in the 1970s, a rocky time some of us, but now can also find ironically nostalgic.

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