Greg Miller: Deconstructing Illusion II at JoAnne Artman Gallery

Greg Miller, Attak. Photo Courtesy of JoAnne Artman Gallery.

Greg Miller: Deconstructing Illusion II

through January 28
JoAnne Artman Gallery, Laguna Beach

By Liz Goldner
Greg Miller mines a panoply of modern and contemporary imagery and styles to create vibrant artworks, informally referred to as “neo-pop”. He includes, in his collages, faces and brushstrokes from comic books, old school binders, sheet music, vintage magazine covers and pages, flags, pictures of perfume bottles, booze and lifesavers, as well as lines and drips, the latter possibly paying homage to Jackson Pollock.

By combining various 20th century art-making techniques, Miller’s pieces defy categorization. More importantly, they evoke nostalgia and remembrance of images and slogans from 20th century pop culture.

With collage as his primary art method, he cobbles together old book covers, pages from magazines, including advertisements, as well as the de rigueur pop element, comic book pages. To these raw renderings, he applies paint, additional faces and even illustrations of skulls. To several works, he adds broad lines of paint, imbuing the pieces with a graffiti style look. He also smudges many images, adding depth and a sense of ageing. To a handful of works, he applies thick resin. The overall impression of a display of his works is that of an amalgam of larger-than-life modern, pop and graffiti art.

History, an oversized faded brown “History” journal, perhaps one that students carried to fill with notes, is jam-packed with rumpled and torn bits of magazines and catalogs, including one page that says, “Playboy Jazz Poll.” Super is a similar schoolbook, but it is bursting with old magazines, including Life and a copy of the fictional Daily Planet newspaper.

Inside Story is a cleverly crafted collage made of books glued onto the canvas with a large, full-lipped female cartoon-like face painted onto the books. As Far as the Eye Could See, is similar, but this piece has the addition of sheet music affixed to the female face, along with smudges and abstract drips along one side. American Woman depicts a large female face in profile, with a filthy American flag draped along one side of the face and hanging below it.

Hero is particularly intriguing. This large, square highly resined collage, consisting of many dozen brightly colored pictures, captured from comic strip pages, includes poignant female faces, masked male faces, car parts, large letters, and expressive strokes of color, implying motion and action. Woman Outlaws and Great Western are similarly vibrant, but each piece features a fierce, combative female, wielding a gun, presumably taking over the world.

While Miller looks to his urban California roots and childhood visits to ghost towns with his father for his images and completed collaged artworks, they convey a larger Americana vision. That perspective, extending to our country’s borders, takes us back to a time when reading material was tactile rather than digital, when entertainment was simpler, and especially when people and things were more directly experienced, rather than through cyberspace.

JoAnne Artman Gallery
326 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651


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