A spectrum of abstract and narrative art is exhibited through Four Views, currently on display at Blue Spiral 1 in downtown Asheville.
The work of the four artists represented is impeccably crafted, as one expects from artists exhibiting at Blue Spiral. The gallery has garnered a high reputation for its stable of quality Southeastern artists.
Celia Gray’s large encaustic paintings present an intuitive approach to art making. Textures and marks created in a minimal palette interact through layers of semi-transparent, non-pigmented wax. The initial intensity of Gray’s mark-making is subdued by layers of wax, and her work ultimately appears atmospheric and luminous.
Cascading rows of brown lines stream between cloudy shapes and powdery white lines in “Cape Vapor” (36”x30”). In “Swimming” (44”x40”), grey marks weave around each other and collide with brown and green forms. “Spreading Center” is a slight departure from the other works, as the streaming lines are no longer present within the wax. Instead, a stately box is carved into the surface of the piece uniting underlying geometric shapes.
Sensual forms created in steel and paper by Andrew Hayes resemble old books that appear to be twisting and sliding off the walls and pedestals upon which they are displayed.
“Divest,” a wall piece, looks like a narrow book was slung wet over a nail in the wall and left to dry there, slowly elongating with the weight of gravity.
It is exciting to see work created out of such a heavy material (steel) be so personable and animated.
Hayes makes it clear that his sculptures are not meant to be read, opened or treated as a book. “This body of work is mainly about design,” says Hayes. “Folding the pages in ways they were never intended to bend, and finding ways to hold them in a new form with metal continues to be an intriguing challenge to me.”
Charles Ladson exhibits ambiguous narratives in oil paint. Expansive fields and faceless figures are masterfully rendered into stories open to the viewer’s interpretation. “The Odd Couple” (40” x 55”) shows a naked man with a blackened face in pastoral setting wearing only black boots. He stands emphatically, hands on hips. A pole with a bird-like shroud is rooted in the earth before him. The sky is bright, indicating daytime. A small parcel wrapped in red ribbon sits between him and an indistinct structure built out of slates of wood.
Reminiscent of Post Modern painters like Neo Rauch and Odd Nerdrum, the work is contemporary in subject matter and classical in method. Deliciously describing those in-between places of the human psyche, Ladson paintings are neither joyful nor depressive — achieving wonderment through banal and unlikely sources.
Sylvie Rosenthal’s wood sculptures of animals bisected with architectural cavities lend a more literal aspect to the exhibit. “Beacon,” an elegant 8-foot-tall giraffe with a lighthouse as its neck, is splendid in its scale and craftsmanship.
Rosenthal, who frequently combines anthropomorphic and architectural elements says, “Much of the work deals with transformation from the inside out, the slow and continual evaluation and re-evaluation of life.”
“Warren,” a rabbit made out of poplar and basswood, measures more than four feet in length. His curvaceous ears flop over to one side and he displays a central dwelling of little windows and doors. The structure seems to make up the skeleton of the bunny and creates a sense of vulnerability. As the viewer bends down to peer into his core, a familiar sense of play, voyeurism and imagination takes over. Says Rosenthal, “I picture an object softly beckoning, tempting with child-like or adult desire to touch, run fingers, reach inside and explore."
Four Views is on display until Sept. 20 on the main floor of the Blue Spiral 1 Gallery. The artwork of Hoss Haley, Lisa Clague and Micah Sherrill is also featured on this level of the gallery.
— Ursula Gullow writes about art for Mountain Xpress and her blog, artseenasheville.blogspot.com.