Robert Green Fine Arts is presenting an exhibition of work by John Grillo from 1940’s, 50’s 60’s as well as some recent painting.
John Grillo (b.1917) was demobilized from the armed forces in the Bay-Area in 1946. Although John had extensive art training prior to WWII, he took advantage of the GI bill and enrolled in the California School of Fine Arts (has since become the San Francisco Art Institute). The school was a hotbed of avant-garde activity.
The immediate postwar years were an extremely important time in American art history. The balance of power was shifting from the “old world” to the new. It was the beginning of the first “truly homegrown art style”
– Abstract Expressionism.
The roster of teachers and students at the California School of Fine Arts was extraordinarily impressive – Clifford Still, Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, David Park, Elmer Bischoff, Richard Diebenkorn and many, many others. Even amongst this gathering of artistic royalty, John Grillo stood out. His inventiveness and creativity was consistently applauded.
“What is not well known is that Grillo’s efforts paralleled and in some cases anticipated developments in the East. While he was in San Francisco, Grillo produced a series of paintings which, for sheer inventiveness of technique, rivaled New York’s avant-garde. In their spontaneity and dramatic intensity, many of these paintings bear the hallmarks of classic gesture painting, as it would be practiced by Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning. What is truly remarkable is that Grillo’s work preceded any knowledge of these artists, as de Kooning had not produced his first one-man show and Kline had not yet moved into abstraction. And anyone tempted to find Grillo’s source of inspiration in Jackson Pollock should remember that Pollock was only just beginning to develop the drip technique that later would make him famous.”
Susan Landauer, John Grillo: The San Francisco years, Art of California 3, 1990
“Probably the earliest and purest of action painters.”
Thomas Albright , Art in the San Francisco Bay-Area, 1945-1980
“His painting acknowledges allegiance to no tradition, exists in a moment of intensity of explosive abstraction”.
Sam Hunter, New York Times, 1948
“From the outset of his career John Grillo has had that rare gift, rare even among artists of stature, of intimacy with the sensuous nature of his medium.”
Douglas MacAgy, Art International Magazine, 1962
Grillo has had a fine career. He has been represented and exhibited by some of the best galleries in New York – Sam Kootz, Howard Wise, Tibor de Nagy, Grace Borgenicht , Bertha Schafer and others. He has taught at several major institutions including Cal Berkeley and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.