Ten Thousand Dots exemplifies Teo González’ post-minimalist style. Layered within an uneven grid, cell-like circles are intermittently filled with painted dots. A riff on the primary colours of blue and red, the cyan background is accentuated by floating magenta dots, conjuring a natural habitat and living organisms. González’ surface is a testament to his process: a methodical, perhaps painstaking, creation of concentric “stains” repeating themselves across the canvas. The painting becomes its meaning - a treatise on disciplined repetition and the nature of paint itself. However, despite González’ refusal to ascribe a message to his work, viewers may find a reference to nature in the painting’s undulating membranes and perhaps even to the human body where moving nuclei follow arterial pathways.
Minimalist art of the 1960s and 70s sought to make art that eschewed metaphor and political and social meaning. Rather, minimalism aimed to reduce art to a purely aesthetic experience where material and form replaced content. It claimed to be self-referential. That is, the work pointed only to its own making, materiality, and visual matter. Abstract Expressionism before it, as practiced by artists such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, was concerned with emotion and the gesture. Minimalism, by contrast, with artists such as Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt, removed the hand of the artist and presented objects that used industrial and synthetic materials and the seriality of shapes.
González calls up these two art historical movements. True to minimalism, his paintings are self-referential. Certainly, when apprehending his works, the viewer is forced first to consider the process of its production and is overwhelmed by its visual field. However, in the tradition of gestural painting, González’ hand is present in the work. The taches seem almost primordial and intuitive and they enliven and loosen the restraint of the painting’s surface.
Dr. Lara Tomaszewska is an art historian and art advisor to private and public collections in North America, the UK, and Europe. She holds a PhD in Art History with expertise in Canadian art, European painting, and American modernism. Lara has taught at the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia and her consulting projects include provenance research and acquisition planning on works by Emily Carr, Henri Matisse, Edvard Munch, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Dale Chihuly, Emily Young and Wu Ching Ju.
Lara is the founder and director of Openwork Art Advisory and is a member of the Association of Art Historians, the Universities Art Association of Canada, and the International Society of Appraisers.