John Wesley, 1928-2022
John “Jack” Wesley, a painter who skirted around Pop-Art, Surrealism and Minimalism even as he defied definition, died on 10 February in New York aged 93.
Wesley’s earliest paintings were of stamps and badges, from where he introduced the compositional device of a painted border. Despite his flat ‘cartoon’ style, and the fact he often exhibited as a Pop artist, Wesley’s intentions were closer to those of surrealism. Frozen, dreamlike scenes take precedence over mass consumption and the contemporary world. His imaginings of the female nude were both erotic and comic, resulting in images simultaneously ‘explicit and cryptic’.
This work is typical of his practice: varying tones of pastel blue and pink, strongly supported by black and white, which also provides the key compositional frameworks of the black contour line that describes the forms. The subjects often overlap the painted borders of his works and line up in repetitive formations. “Repetition makes things funny,” he once said.