Dalsheimer is ending as it began--with style

January 18, 1991|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Sun Art Critic

Print Portfolios

When: Tuesdays through Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., through March 29.

Where: The G. H. Dalsheimer Gallery, 336 N. Charles St.

Call: 727-0866. For its last show, before it closes at the end of March, Dalsheimer is showing portfolios of prints by three nationally known artists, Louise Bourgeois, James Turrell and Terry Winters. Although the general title of the show is "Portfolios: A Common Thread," it's at first difficult to see a common thread beyond such obvious facts as that they're all prints, all black and white, etc., ect.

But then certain connections begin to make themselves seen. For one thing, the work of all these artists is elegant, understated, speaking quietly but authoritatively. Aside from that, however, a thread seems to weave itself through these works from artist to artist; we don't necessarily see the same things in all of them, but there's a progression of sorts.

Bourgeois' portfolio "Anatomy" consists of small etchings that are witty, concise and surprisingly sexual. A face (none of the works in the show has a specific title) which seems to be forming itself as we look is somewhat reminiscent of Klee but its astringent line -- and this happens elsewhere, too -- suddenly goes sensually fuzzy as if intellectuality is giving way to physicality. Eyes look calculating but also fetching. A foot is only a foot but somehow manages to be erotic, too. There is a kind of second innocence, a sophisticated childlikeness in the delight taken in parts of the body.

The woodcuts in Winters' series called "Furrows" feature shapes that also look anatomical or at least organic, and they appear almost to change as one watches. One looks like a shock of hair ending in something that was once a neck but has metamorphosed into a grotesquely elongated Adam's apple. Another is either an insect or a pelvis with a distorted bunny's face hanging from it.

But when we're through playing these games we notice, too, how the image relates to the wood-grain background which has been allowed to show in the print, creating ambiguities of light and dark and of plane on plane.

Turrell's beautiful aquatint etchings, the set called "First Light," also deal with light and dark, with illusion of space playing against the picture plane. They are above all ravishing in their extreme delicacy of tone, achieving the merest hints of dark in the white, of light in the darker areas. In that delicacy these geometric objects suggest a sensitivity of touch which is a kind of sensuality, bringing us back to Bourgeois.

Full circle, as it were, and how appropriate for a gallery which is ending as it began, by offering Baltimore distinguished art.

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