By GRACE GLUECK
Published: February 26, 1999
Denise Bibro Fine Art
529 West 20th Street
Through March 13
The old Abstract Expressionist strengths of gesture and accident are the basis of John Beardman's casual-looking paintings. In them, many-colored, vaguely geometric patches of paint seem to float on nuanced grounds of quieter tone. The phrase "thick and thin" refers to the varying surfaces he creates, using built-up impasto in some parts of a work to contrast with areas of paint that seem barely stroked on.
Mr. Beardman gets his seemingly unplanned effects by an intense but "blind" process that helps accidents to happen. He layers acrylic colors on wax beds, then pulls and tears off the hardened sheets of color, and applies them to a prepared surface. Whatever happens in the process become part of the imagery; the painting is then worked over in a final editing process.
The results here are mixed. One that came out well is "Deep in the Heart," whose delicately varied blue ground is strewn with lively fragments: from a flight of small yellow chips to flayed, tattered patches accented by gestural outlines. Randomness happily prevails. Others you want to shake up so that the kaleidoscopic mix is more interestingly distributed. Still, Mr. Beardman is a gutsy painter whose will to make accident meaningful often pays off.