Although it may be true that we live in disenchanted times, the hypnagogic visions of romanticism persist. It's a fact evidenced with nuanced impact in Jim Thorell's new paintings, wherein the sublime still blooms, in tension with finely-tuned semiotic and stylistic moves. The latter locate the work in the contemporary, emphasising the painter's keen attention to the condition and ongoing relevance of wonder itself.
In these works, dense networks of line shapeshift between sprawling rhizomatic orga- nisms, and structures connoting cartography and electrical grids — the technological skeleton of contemporary life. In paintings such as "Deserted sun servant to one" (2022), colour arrives in amorphous formations resembling clouds: both those made from enormous volumes of condensation, and those which consist of our own data. It is the transposition of architectonic and technological lines that triggers this hybrid reading, and with it a sense of the simultaneity of these "hyper objects", one extending back in time towards the Big Bang, and the other reaching into the yet-unknown future. In Thorell's new work, this duality takes on the all-encompassing nature of an atmosphere itself.
Building upon his earlier work, this painted rumination is bolstered by language. Deserted sun servant to one finds deep blues drifting and bleeding together, as a sunny yellow blotch rises from behind, and jotted marks recall the scrawling of the ancients. "Boat Drinks seawater slush" (2022) shares this lexicon of form, chroma, and space. Here Thorell's quick brushwork articulates bursting nebulae, lichen, and the staining of concrete by fresh rain. Meanwhile the titles draw a frame around these resonant albeit purposively overdetermined networks of signification. They bring to mind a lone wanderer contem- plating the passage of time and worlds.
In several of the new paintings, such as "Jagged jade dogged age" (2022), flowers bloom out of these at once antediluvian and hypermodern atmospheres. An almost generic signifier executed in a style that skilfully echoes childish drawing, the flower motif is a painterly note that can and has been reinterpreted in the lineage of painting to which Thorell belongs. In this cartoon flower, viewers may hear whispers of certain precedents: Christopher Wool or Cy Twombly. Every Intoxicating canvas is also a meditation on the ongoing role of painting, as a medium that is at once central to the timeless human project of image making, and paradoxically distanced from the flow of time and society itself. Easy answers are bypassed, in favour of images that lure viewers into the uncanny space of this medium in all of its affective and historical dimensions.