Landscapes at Grimaldis display distinct styles

July 15, 1991|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Sun Art Critic

The elements of landscape are so amenable to variations of treatment that it's not surprising they have been used by all manner of artists, from realists to abstract expressionists. This month the C. Grimaldis Gallery at 523 N. Charles St. has "Perceptual Painting: Landscape" (through July 27), bringing together a group of artists who use landscapes in differing ways, with differing results and differing degrees of success.

Of the six painters represented, Wolf Kahn's quiet oils withtheir pastel-like colors may seem at first the most modest of all. But in Kahn there is a distillation of color and a depth of feeling that

persist and expand in the consciousness. These are works of beauty that one takes leave of reluctantly.

Joan Levy's expressionist renderings of landscape are effective, especially the well-thought-out "The Phoenix." With its licks of flame and swirling forms it owes something to Munch and something to van Gogh, but it has its own integrity.

Henry Coe is the most traditional landscapist here. His "Cades Cove, Tenn." proves by its weight and the almost solemn march of its greens that tradition need not necessarily mean irrelevance.

Carl Plansky's abstracted, gestural works may be the most ambitious in the exhibit in their attempt tomarry landscape and abstract expressionism. But his paintings in this show lack adequate coherence, neither his color nor his gesture is totally convincing, and he can appear hasty and arbitrary.

The warmth of sunlight and the coolness of foliage play off one another in Rosalyn Jacobs' paintings. And Mary Page Evans achieves an ebullience of color in "February #7." One can take pleasure in these works, but must not demand too much of them.

The current exhibit of "Sculpture and Drawings" at Grimaldis' 1006 Morton St. gallery (through July 27) is partly an extension of the spring show of works by John Van Alstine and John Ruppert. But some of their work has been replaced by six sculptures of other artists. Judging by Mel Kendrick's two works, he continues his love affair with the history of art, particularly 20th century art.

This is especially true of one of these two "Untitled" works, fashioned from walnut and painted with white stripes. It's possible to see the baroque in this work's curves, angles and shifting planes, but it also speaks of both the futuristic visions of early 20th century artists and architects, and of the African sculpture that inspired Picasso.

Wade Saunders' two wall sculptures reflect something of surrealism in their suggestions of the crazy metamorphoses and super-real clarity of dreams.

In its reference to fantasy there is a lighthearted side to Saunders' sculpture, yet it is not without gravity. His "Pupil" changes even as we look; yes, it's an eye, but it's also a mouth with tongue and a pair of ears and it has a sexual connotation as well. It's in fact quite Freudian.

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