Aline Feldman is probably best known for her woodcuts, especially those of the landscape seen as if from an aerial perspective; they have won her considerable recognition, but they have always seemed to me somewhat stylized and patterny.
Not so her drawings, and especially her recent ones, as seen in "Drawing Now" at the Howard County Center for the Arts. Working in a combination of pastel, watercolor and monotype, Feldman creates works that originate in landscape but are filled with dynamism and emotion and at times something of the sweep of the baroque.
This is especially true of "Air: Dark" from her series on the four elements (earth, air, fire, water). The best of a dozen strong drawings here, this abstracts the concept of air into a swirling work of brooding turbulence that suggests inner turbulence of mind.
Feldman says this series was inspired by the Persian Gulf war, reflecting the horrors of war and "a broader statement about the relationship of society and nature." Well, perhaps, but what comes across is personal emotion and a strong sense of visual drama. The best part of this lopsided show is the chance to see Feldman's recent development over the four years represented by these works.
If only the other three artists, selected by Baltimore Museum of Art curator Jan Howard, were as well represented. But while Feldman gets a gallery to herself, James Adkins, Nadezda Prvulovic and Diana Marta are shown together in the other
gallery. Prvulovic is represented by two works, one of which is from 1983 (not exactly "Drawing Now"), and Marta by one. Perhaps these artists didn't have more drawings available, but if that's the case it might have been better to wait until they did.
Adkins' four drawings give a good sense of this artist's use of charcoal to create beautifully lighted and delicately modulated nudes; traditional art remains valid in the work of an artist such as this.
Prvulovic's main work here, "Blooming -- Slabbing," comes from the blast furnaces that provide her with subject matter for paintings as well. The drawing combines a complex composition and a counterpoint of lights and darks with a sense of the romance of the age of industry.
Marta's large drawing, "Ice Boxes," may be about homelessness, as Howard says, but it can also be seen as dealing with the difficulty of closeness in a world made impersonal by the pace of life and such things as the numbers that increasingly define us (from zip code to credit card).
"Drawing Now" continues through Feb. 7 at Howard County Center for the Arts, 8510 High Ridge Road, Ellicott City. The center will be closed Dec. 24-Jan. 1. Call (410) 313-2787.
Where: Howard County Center for the Arts, 8510 High Ridge Road, Ellicott City.
When: Mondays to Thursdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., through Feb. 7. Closed Dec. 24 to Jan. 1 inclusive.
Call: (410) 313-2787