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TERRY THOMPSON: Signs of the Times




Exhibition Type:

How many artists: 
Saturday, 13 January 2024 to Saturday, 17 February 2024
Saturday, 13 January 2024 - 4:00pm

Billis Williams Gallery is pleased to present TERRY THOMPSON: Signs of the Times - the gallery’s eighth solo exhibition of paintings by the San Francisco-based artist.  Signs of the Times features Thompsons recent oil paintings of vintage neon signs and continues through February 17th.

For nearly twenty years, Thompson has focused primarily on painting old neon signs that have somehow avoided the wrecking ball - the signs that have lived and beat the odds.  These sculptural signs exist as historically and emotionally charged metaphors for the unrelenting passage of time.  In his paintings, Thompson seeks to to reveal the hidden beauty of these banal, rusty relics, by rendering them in paint.  

Thompson finds his subjects while exploring the forgotten back streets of cities across the United States.  This act of discovery coupled with being in the physical presence of these signs, is crucial to his process.  Thompson is searching for the diamonds in the discarded materials of our heavily commercial culture - the hidden beauty in the mundane and often-overlooked.  

Thompson is fascinated by packaging typography and graphics and has done a series of vintage food product paintings depicting TV dinners, soda and soup cans, cereal boxes, and candy wrappers.  The oversized and playful paintings of these products take the mundane and re-packages it for our contemporary eyes - objects that were used and thrown away take on a new power to evoke emotion and memory.  Text is a common thread uniting both the sign and packaging paintings as is Thompson’s interest in capturing what is often considered purely functional and utilitarian by one era yet comes to mean more in the ensuing years.  These signs or product packages represent so much more with the passage of time - our youth and the ever present nostalgia for the perceived “simpler times” of the past   

Thompson delves deep into the brilliant design aesthetic of the objects.  From a time before the current mass media advertising bombardment of the devices we all carry in our pockets, these iconic signs and packages were an essential forms of advertising - if the sign caught your eye, you’d remember it.  Instead of repetition as is the case now, designers had perhaps only one shot to make that statement.   

Terry Thompson (b. Mountain View, CA, 1963) initially studied were in industrial technology and he worked as an equipment engineer for various tech companies in Silicon Valley.  While the work was interesting to Thompson, he could not get away from painting and went on to received his BA and MFA from San Jose State University (CA).  Thompson has exhibited throughout the West Coast and his work can be found in private collections throughout the world and in the permanent collections of The San Jose Museum of Art, The Nevada Museum of Art, The California Museum -Sacramento, The de Saisset Museum of Art - Santa Clara University, and The Fort Wayne Museum of Art.  Terry Thompson lives and works in San Francisco.

Venue ( Address ): 

2716 S La Cienega Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90034

Billis Williams Gallery , Los Angeles

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