Among Robert Aselage's wood sculptures at Nye Gomez Gallery, the larger, approximately human-sized ones are more complex and less purely contemplative than the pieces he showed at George Ciscle's gallery three years ago. They still express the beauties and the forces of nature, but now in a different way.
Aselage works with pieces of found wood, which he paints, sands, and perhaps alters in other ways, but never so that it destroys the shape or the expressiveness of the original piece of wood. The pieces in the show three years ago seemed to speak as microcosms of the beauty of nature itself. Those in this show suggest aspects of nature in a way that is both more abstract and more specific.
"Susquehanoak Joy," for instance, is a 7-foot-tall work that flows and is colored somewhat like a baroque painting. It doesn't look like a baroque painting, but suggests the sources in nature of a baroque painting. Its lines, its protuberances, its ins and outs suggest the dynamics of the baroque, while the blues and whites and yellows and the streak of red suggest baroque use of color.
"Shape Changer" has a more human form, but its reddish color makes one think of a long-burning, prehistoric fire, so that it speaks of a time when human beings and nature were closer together. "Sky Journey" does not suggest sky, but on the one hand anthropomorphic trees, gnomes and other creatures of the forests of fantasy, and on the other hand a cascading movement as of water.
Aselage's smaller pieces here don't work as well as his larger ones; "Guardian," for instance, is just too anthropomorphic for its own good. His tallest work also looks as if it represents a new direction. "Sounder" is a free-standing piece combining a thin vertical of wood and a pair of wheels. It's visually handsome, but less communicative than other works.
It was a happy thought to show Aselage's nature-oriented sculptures with Robert Reid's landscape watercolors. They complement each other nicely, for Reid uses watercolor in a way that's strong enough to stand up to Aselage's muscular pieces.
Reid superimposes images upon one another to create somewhat surreal works that suggest as much as depict landscape. At their best, these achieve effective combinations of composition and mood, illusion and abstraction. In other cases here, they appear somewhat affected or forced, as if Reid is over-using this format.
Reid works in two formats, 30 inches by 22 inches and 68 inches by 22 inches. Among the larger works are two given the titles "Lot et Garonne" numbers 1 and 2. The first may be more ambitious, but the second is more resolved. All the pieces fit together -- the colors, the images, the way parts react to one another individually as well as to the whole. The result shows this artist at his most successful.
The show runs through April 4 at Nye Gomez Gallery, 836 Leadenhall St. Call (410) 752-2080.