Best Artist (2004)
John Pomara, painter and professor of painting at UT-Dallas
John Pomara is a painter who thrives on the death of painting. He understands well that painting's so-called death has become its very condition, and he has managed to infuse the splendors of that death with something radically new. His work hinges on the idea and fact of mediation--the mediation of pixels and paint through the repeated modeling of computer-generated images, and the physical movement of the pull of paint. When looking at the surfaces of his perfectly flat, shiny and brightly colored paintings, one would never know that they were so complicated. But it is this subtle play of contradiction--bringing to mind the hi-lo high jinks of Lichtenstein and Warhol--that makes his paintings so successful. The "hi" (as in high art) part of his works is obvious. He makes paintings that feel good all over and, most important, are good on the eye. The "lo" part is, while more suggested, integral to his work. Pomara plays on the lowbrow with his choice of base materials--highly pixelated advertisements and photographic imagery, industrial paint and aluminum panels. Pomara revels in the death of painting because he is the master of resuscitation.