Posted February 4, 2014
In the fall of 2011, at a house sale in a modest Seattle neighborhood, a local picker combing through mountains of seemingly ordinary household stuff made an astonishing discovery. There, among stacks of sci-fi paperbacks, engineering trade journals and electronic paraphernalia was a collection of box after box of paintings, sketches and mobiles – hundreds of pieces in all.
The art was the work of a man who saw life and art through a different lens, self-taught visionary artist Larry John Palsson (1948-2010), the home’s only remaining occupant who had passed away the previous November. After high school Larry had aspired to be an engineer. But he was unable to hold a job because of an unspecified medical condition — possibly a form of autism based on what we know.
An only child, Larry was just 15 when his father passed away. He lived with his widowed mother his entire life. What little we know about Larry comes from neighbors, a Palsson cousin and a single spiral-bound notebook found with his art. We’re told he was forever buying rosebushes that he never got around to planting. Everyday tasks could send him into a panic. He kept to himself and neighbors saw him as a “harmless recluse.”
Somewhere along the way, Larry taught himself to paint, creating a trove of hundred of paintings that are, in turn, playful, provocative, elegant, mysterious and mind-blowingly inventive. His conceptual ideas and design ability are fresh and compelling, and when Larry is at his best, the brushwork is extraordinary.
As with many self-taught artists, Larry painted on found material — from cereal boxes and advertising brochures to particleboard panels and Masonite.
There are no records that document Larry’s creative journey – exactly when or why he started painting, no diary entries of discoveries and breakthroughs. But we can learn a great deal about the man and the artist from the paintings themselves. They were never framed; never seen by anyone other than family and friends; and, with one or two exceptions, never titled, signed or dated.
Larry John Palsson is one of those individuals whose brain was uniquely wired and whose creative abilities were driven by a deeply personal inner vision. J Compton Gallery is pleased to represent this exciting discovery.
For more about Larry and his work, click here.
To see paintings now offered for sale, click here.
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