Despite the promise of its title, John Salhus’s exhibition at NE Sculpture Gallery Factory in Minneapolis is far from paradisal. “Reaching the Islands,” which opened under social distancing measures after being postponed for a month, is filled with paintings of desolation and destruction: splintered wood beams, scarily bulging moons, drowned and storm-tossed canvases, littered flora. Salhus applies paint with a trippy, heavy hand, filling canvases large and small with visible brushwork from top to bottom, toxifying everything with neon highlights. Bits of Surrealism crash against cartoonishness and rub up against Pop. Looking feels exhausting, incessant, and deliberately punitive: a wooden sign in one picture exhorts, “SEE HOW WE ARE.” As we all must, if it isn’t already too late.
—Lori Waxman 2020-06-29 10:39 PM