Jonathan Nash Glynn Dances Across the Canvas
Painting has evolved over time from the old masters who made the brush stroke invisible to the impressionists who only revealed it upon close inspection to abstract expressionism where a brush is not even needed, the process itself is the painting.
Artist Jonathan Nash Glynn has followed a similar journey, moving from representational painting which served as his personal visual diary to vibrant, energetic abstracts which, like a catchy tune, inspire you to move to their beat. “I think of it as taking risks,” says Glynn, “If it looks too pretty, I have to change it or if it looks too obvious. There has to be a dynamic created in the painting. I paint flat so I don’t even know which end is going to be up. I circle it and dance around it.”
After a successful chapter creating one-of-a-kind ceramics for the top stores in New York City including Barney’s, Bendel’s and Bergdorf’s Glynn wanted to explore his next act in Sag Harbor. “It was 1995 and I looked into the cheapest house in Sag Harbor,” he recounts, “I kept the original 1840 cottage in front but the studio is the biggest room in the house.” Spanning 20 feet ceilings with a spiral staircase, the studio is the central artery of the home. “I am looking at the work all day long so I’m living in it, and that has been very helpful,” he explains.
Like for many artists during lockdown, it was an intense time of change. Glynn says, “It was a relief to be able to paint through Covid, and because of it I was able to change my style and make a commitment to this work. I think it’s the most mature work I have now. I took a lot of my ego out of it,” he reveals. “Now I am more interested in the color and energy and the abstraction of what each painting will make of itself.” He adds with a laugh, “I am just as curious as what the painting is going to be.”
Sometimes giving up the brushes can be liberating as well as fun. “I use ketchup bottles with different openings to get thinner or thicker lines or I will throw powdered charcoal on it,” says Glynn. “I will crinkle up gold leaf and throw it on the canvas. And I embed it in resin which adds layers and makes the colors pop,” he explains, “It’s not just an experience the viewer can walk by. If they live with it, they will have an experience like I did making it.”
The inevitable ode to Pollock and the history imbedded in East Hampton arises and Glynn states, “I feel like my work is an extension of this experience and this location.”
In his catalogue for Glynn’s recent show at his East Hampton gallery Colm Rowan stated, “For me this late body of work represents a herculean effort by him to reach the apex of his expressive ability. As such it is a triumph in one man’s artistic journey.”
Glynn is also passionate about the charity he founded, Wings Over Haiti, which he started by flying medical supplies in his private plane to the beleaguered country after the 2010 earthquake and donates a portion of his artistic proceeds. He updates the success, “The first school we built has over 225 kids and growing and it’s a miracle. We bought land and built buildings and now there are basketball courts and musical instruments and smiling faces.” The Wings Over Haiti annual benefit will be held July 16th at the East Hampton Airport.
Maybe it is just good karma but Glynn comments, “I went to my show recently, and I had this feeling from my own paintings that I was receiving energy from them. I left feeling better, and I can’t ask for more.” If you can sit it out or dance… get up and dance.