This survey of works on paper by painter Doug Turman includes his Love Notes series, whimsical etchings, and an array of paintings on paper. A master of the small, almost incidental, work on paper, Turman works with obsessive precision and sometimes as author Rick Newby notes, “extreme looseness and daring,” uniting disparate images from a vast array of influences including Persian miniatures, Matisse’s cut paper, Paul Klee’s modernist paintings, and Kurt Schwitters’ collages. Collectively, they present a sustained artistic vision that has been steadfast for nearly forty years. A postmodernist at core, Turman re-contextualizes his source material, juxtaposes text and images, appropriates at random, dabbles in tromp l’oeil, and oblique gestures, and throws in a variety of painterly and cultural references to make satisfying works that are firmly rooted in play, irony, satire, and fun. Turman says, “I think of each frame as a proscenium. Each painting is its own little world. At one point I decided I wanted to be able to paint whatever I could think of.”
Turman was born in Seattle and grew up in Missoula, where he studied art with George Gogas and Lela Autio in high school. He received his BA in fine arts from Oberlin College and MFA from the University of Montana. Between degrees, he worked at the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C., which is one of the first American art museums dedicated to modern art. With his wife Mary Lee Larison, he owned Turman Larison Contemporary, an art gallery in downtown Helena for 16 years. His current work in painting, printmaking, and photography is strongly influenced by his many trips to Italy, where he teaches painting workshops annually.
[thumbnail image: Doug Turman, Love Letter #21, 1992, watercolor, ink, graphite, and postage stamp on paper, MAM Collection, gift of Katherine Markette, 2016.10, copyright the artist.]