“Nature Interpreted,” currently on view at Emily Amy Gallery, features new two-dimensional work from five artists. The exhibition encompasses a range of styles and media linked by a broad theme: representations of nature.
My favorite artist in the show, Cara Enteles, paints animals, insects, and elaborate vegetal forms on aluminum panels and acrylic sheets. She creates visual complexity and dimension by painting on both sides of the sheets and layering materials.
On her choice of materials, Enteles states:
The aluminum surface has a reflective sheen, which changes the look of the piece, based on the light, time of day, or position of the viewer. I find this quality appealing because it mimics the shifting phases of light in nature.
In The Last Days of Summer, an acrylic sheet covers an aluminum panel. White and yellow flowers and ferns on the aluminum and the back of the acrylic visually recede from the darker vegetation on the front. Some details have been scraped, smeared, and reworked, thereby enhancing the layered effect. Painterly hummingbirds contrast nicely with linear plants. Spots of pigment in various colors and paint types, including some with glitter, further the work’s complexity.
Painted shadows in I Can Help You Pollinate, for example, lend this work impressive depth, as does the gold mirror that forms the back layer.
Enteles also uses colored acrylic to dramatic effect:
Tree Before has a woodblock cut feel:
Here Enteles layers acrylic sheets—purple atop florescent orange—to create the glowing magenta background.
Paul Brigham is another artist of particular note in this exhibition. He creates textural mixed media works in layers of molding paste, oil, acrylics, conté crayon, graphite, charcoal, and silk-screened patterns that evoke Japanese textiles. He adds more depth by using sandpaper to reveal elements from previous layers. Once Brigham has achieved the desired background, he draws subject matter—branches and birds inspired by Japanese prints—on top of it.
My idea was that when you’re out hiking, you notice a bird, but there are other things around it, like branches and flowers. So, I set up the painting where there is a main focal point and then other things that suggest the environment around it.
Will Corr’s use of impasto (thickly layered paint) adds visual interest to his sparse, folksy nature scenes. Winter Solitude depicts five trees in a barren landscape dense with texture that includes “frozen” paint drips.
I liked the split composition of Corr’s Ocean Solitude I. The contrast of the slick sky in the top panel with the impasto-laden, light-reflective waves is effective.
Angela Saxon also uses split compositions, as in the triptych See Through It. In her paintings, however, these divisions seem more like afterthoughts than integral concepts.
Saxon’s tumultuous, impressionistic brushstrokes are appropriate to works like After the Storm.
Finally, an economy of color, lines, and splotches characterize Richard Kooyman’s paintings. His loose compositions evoke garden scenes and floral still lifes. As with the work of Corr and Saxon, their effectiveness typically does not rely on an illusion of three-dimensional space; instead, their surface textures keep the eye active on—and interested in—the thickly applied paint.
The title wall of “Nature Interpreted” introduces the exhibit with a quote by Paul Cézanne:
I have not tried to reproduce nature:
I have represented it.
And so these artists have, each in their own distinct voice.
“Nature Interpreted” is on view at Emily Amy Gallery through Wed. Dec. 10.