The impromptu brushstroke was so emblematic of abstract expressionism that pop artist Roy Lichtenstein parodied it for decades. But some abstractions of the middle of the twentieth century have avoided the brushes in favor of the spill, drops and splashes. The validity of these techniques is confirmed by the work of three artists, Greg Minah, Nicole Gunning and Shar Coulson, in two separate shows.
Cross MacKenzie Gallery's "new material" shows how Minah and Gunning add water and clay respectively to the mix. Minah pours pigments and, as long as it is still liquid, turns the canvas to cause gestures that flow and intersect. Sometimes it sprays the surface with water or air, partly removes the paint but leaves ghostly outlines where the edges of the streams have dried. These can be isolated or used as bones to coat with multicolored skin layers.
The Baltimore artist has undertaken several variations of this strategy. Some of the resulting images are pastel and chalky, while others are brighter and more opaque. The most recent work has textures that seem feathery, as if complex overlaps were still flying. Minah freezes streams of paint, but the sense of movement remains.
Mainly a ceramist, Gunning has already shown his bare self-portraits in terracotta. Currently, without access to a dryer, the DC artist began splashing colorful bentonite on a canvas. Three-dimensional clays are displayed in patterns that resemble coral reefs, lichen-covered rocks or, according to one title, a "kelp forest". Although a single color undercoat maintains all the colors and clumps are surprisingly unpredictable.
The paintings in various media of Shar Coulson, including "Perception Vs. Reality "is" Artist's Proof ", are a bit more traditional. The work of the Chicago artist begins with being abstract, but begins to include clues to nature and landscapes. (His current series is entitled "Figure of Wildlife Flora.") Brush marks are evident among layers of wax and acrylic paint, as well as lines drawn in charcoal.
Yet Coulson uses a tactic similar to Minah's. She regularly rotates the canvas to approach the composition from a new angle. In addition, it abrade the pigment that she applied, both to obtain weathered textures and to open areas during further incursions. The completed images are both delicate and physical, combining dull undertones and robust gestures. Coulson's tributes to flora and fauna are all celebrations of the act of painting.
Greg Minah and Nicole Gunning: new material Until 14 November at Cross MacKenzie Gallery, 1675 Wisconsin Ave. NW.
Perception vs. reality: an exhibition of works by Shar Coulson Until November 25th at Artist's Proof, 1533 Wisconsin Ave. NW.
Alvarez Yurcisin, Sherrill Evans & Shellow
Circles and reused objects are two of the three motifs of "Open System", the show by Fabiola Alvarez Yurcisin at the VisArts Concourse Gallery. The inspiration for the third component could be explained by a note from the gallery that reveals the current field of study of the local artist born in Mexico: urban planning. Alvarez Yurcisin often places his found objects in grids as neat as those of Pierre L'Enfant.
Alvarez Yurcisin builds boxes – she calls them "cages" – with brilliantly interwoven brilliant color ribbons and a black cassette. On the floor, four landscape photos define the sides of an empty rectangle. The circular shapes of the floppies without casings are mounted in ordered rows. Other ready-made events include a Rolodex, small animal exercise wheels and paper and vinyl circles on which viewers are invited to "write their circular thoughts".
The work suggests cycles of history, as well as manufacturing processes. After all, these pieces are a form of recycling. Alvarez Yurcisin uses many technologically obsolete technologies, but she does not simply recover them. She uses their elemental forms to illustrate a kind of eternal recurrence.
Andrea Sherrill Evans, located nearby, in the Common Ground Gallery of the place, addresses another type of environmental concern. His "Invasive" is a series of small, precise drawings of flourishing non-native plants in the central Atlantic coast. Kudzu, English ivy and others are made to the point of money, a millenary technique that transfers real money lines on paper. Although the effect is subtle, the images of Sherrill Evans describe wild foliage, even dangerously abundant.
Organic images are less literal in Leslie Shellow's The Substance of Matter at the bottom of Gibbs Street Gallery. Wind and water are represented by watercolor and collage in the work of this artist who, like Sherrill Evans, teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. The show includes small paintings in black and white ink on paper in classical Chinese fashion and three larger works executed directly on the wall. Shellow also projects a video of the waves and algae on one of his photos. Whatever the chosen medium, the artist seeks to convey both intensity and ephemeral.
Fabiola Alvarez Yurcisin: Open system; Andrea Sherrill Evans: invasive; Leslie Shellow: The substance of matter Until November 18 at VisArts at Rockville, 155 Gibbs St., Rockville.
The two large collage paintings that make up Zoe Charlton's "The Migration" tell a fascinating personal story. But the form of the G Fine Art show is as interesting as its content.
Originally commissioned by and produced at Artspace San Antonio, the two works are initially a painting of a naked black woman, representing Charlton's ancestors. Bodies grow profusion of greenery reminiscent of the Florida homestead belonging to the Baltimore artist's grandmother at a time when few African-American women were landowners. Groups of cut-out birds emerge from the trees and head for the back corner of the gallery. Some are realistic renderings; others are only traits extracted from decorative papers.
The birds in flight evoke freedom, as well as the almost unlimited composition. The central part of each work is on a rectangle of white paper, but its borders almost disappear in the white wall and the glued elements overflow the sheet and cross the room. Charlton's works go beyond the picture frame to the corner of the room, where a bird's head is cut off to indicate that it has reached the border. "The Migration" celebrates fertility and abandonment, but admits playfully that even the biggest visions have borders.
Zoe Charlton: The migration Until 17 November at G Fine Art, 4718 14th St. NW.