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"Heartland Haiku
John Domont
Domont Studio Gallery
Through Nov. 30

Sky has always been a primary force in the work of John Domont: Landscapes are as much about sky as land, after all; it’s the contrast between them, or their convergence, that often offers the most dramatic moment. Domont’s current body of work, a series of paintings that strike a new chord in a largely vertical orientation, but that are still unmistakably Domont, give the heavens a new voice. Varying degrees of sky — a towering force of blue or a subtle curtain of indigo, stacked banks of white clouds, or fiery, diffused sunlight — are at once reflection of and homage to the earth.

On view in his Domont Studio Gallery, itself an ethereal space, Domont considers this moment a breakthrough: moving from horizontal to vertical. Here is an artist who is so studied and deliberate in his expressions — they follow a trajectory that is realized first in a vision inspired by a real landscape, followed by a crayon drawing, a painted study, and finally the full-scale painting — that such a departure is indeed significant.

Yet he remains true to his dedication to giving voice to the Indiana landscape, interpreting it in its essence rather than as concrete representation. Domont’s colors are fauve-like interpretations — almost improbably bold at times, always suggestive of divine light — and yet we believe in them. Domont is one of a few artists who can pull off a purple-roofed barn or aquamarine trees without being saccharine.

Domont has contributed his own haiku — punctuating his work with such moments as “Full moon waiting/Watching/Fireflies blinking in the wheat.” The painting this one accompanies, “Heartland Haiku #29,” is almost as spare: a glowing sky offers contrast to a bank of trees and sky drenched in blue, fireflies dotting its expanse.

Domont has the stamina and focus to go the aesthetic distance when it comes to a new idea or approach. In less than a year, he produced this body of work — more than a dozen meticulously realized paintings, plus one horizontal painting and two new begging bowls. One of these, “Begging Bowl #58,” at 48” x 54”, is alarmingly beautiful: the bowl emerges as if from a cloud, set upon an abstraction of color. (This painting will soon make its way for an extended visit to the U.S. Embassy in Thailand.) The bowls offer an entirely different aesthetic, emerging from a dream image and realized as a different sort of icon; giving full voice to Domont’s innate sense of color and depth — and what lies beyond.

Heartland Haiku, new paintings by John Domont, are on view through Nov. 30 at Domont Studio Gallery, 545 South East St.; hours, Thurs.-Sat., 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 685-9634 or visit for more information.


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