JOHN CONNELL By Paul Henrickson, Ph.D.

© 2002

tm. © 2007

Sometimes, as John Connell and I have discussed, a real talent slips by unrecognized and because of the particular time and place never gets into the stream. Imagine, if you can, what might have been the case had a man like the Norwegian expressionist painter Edvard Munch made his appearance in sixteenth century Italy. It would be easy to dismiss the question, or the challenge, by stating it could never happen, but, if it did happen, quite likely the vast majority of the responses would have been life-threatening, for sure, it would have been very unlikely he would have found a patron. He would have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, now, today, and this is important to recognize, many of us have absolutely no difficulty in looking at Leonardo’s “Mona Lisa” on the same wall as Munch’s “Scream”. Now, one question is: what does that tell us about us? As a 21st Century observer we have little difficulty in accepting both images as legitimate expressions worthy of our thoughtful consideration as works of art and we can move back and forth from one to the other in a modicum of psychic comfort and ease whereas I believe it unlikely members of the Medici family would have had the ease, to say nothing of the flexibility of thought process, to have been able to accomplish the task. Even the 18th Century Madame de Stael may have had some serious responsive moments. The point of this illustration is that in the past half-millennium highly significant changes have occurred in our talents to perceive.

Edvard Munch: “Scream”

Annibile Caracci: drawing

In regard to John’s work, I have no record of having published a criticism at any time, while I wrote for The Santa Fe Reporter. I do remember seeing an exhibition of his work at the Linda Durham Gallery, then on Canyon Road. I remember I had found it perplexing, destructive, and promising. Retrospectively it had reminded me of the work of a German, Anselm Kiefer, I had seen at Saatchi & Saatchi in London, which had shocked, angered and amused me. I had been amused, finally, because of the extravagant sizes, 12’, 15’ and maybe even 18’ in one dimension and the quantity of straw which suggested that perhaps a family of mice, not unlike creating an ant farm, might quite thoroughly enjoy allowing themselves to play a friendly game of hide and seek with a family of homosapiens co-existing in the same larger shelter and serving the mutual purpose of providing mutual pastime entertainment for the two groups of mammals. I never discussed with John what it was he had in mind with his straw and tar freestanding assemblages. Connell’s drawings, on the other hand, are titillating and not so vaguely oriental. I was thrilled when Elizabeth Harris had selected him to create the stage-set for one of her theatre pieces. They functioned very well that way and, one again, she showed Santa Fe the way to go as she had done with her production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Mikado”.

Connell, pen drawing of a heron

Connell, pen and ink drawing

Ernest Borein: “portrait”

Enest Borein: “Bucking Bronco”

Gromaire: “Balustrade” ”

Gromaire: “Nude”

John Yates: “Standing”

William Stanley Hayter: “Untitled”

Michelangelo Buonarotti

Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt van Rijn

Zen,P: “Standing Figure”

Paul Henrickson: “Sherif”

Chuzo Tomatzu: “Sumi Drawing” What is revealed in the collection of drawings above is evidence of the varying degrees that the marks artists use in order to indicate or describe certain visually detected qualities may claim and retain existential independence from the subjects they describe and still

describe qualities of that subject. This is most readily observed in the last three drawings, by Zen, Henrickson and Tomatzu.