Quentin Moseley's celebration of light

ART REVIEW

December 09, 1992|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Art Critic

In the December show at Galerie Francoise, Quenti Moseley's off the wall. But his admirers need not be alarmed, because he's on the wall, too.

Moseley, the area's most imaginative neon artist that I know of, has done large-scale installations including a delightful one some time ago atop the Maryland Institute's Fox building. He also has wall pieces, combining neon and other materials. In the current show, there are three wall pieces, but also three free-standing, in-the-round pieces that have a somewhat different kind of presence.

The wall pieces, being closer to two-dimensional works, look like a marriage of paintings and relief sculptures. Their flat surfaces in a number of materials and textures -- wood grain, Plexiglas, paint -- jump away from the wall and meet one another at jaunty angles, providing the sculptural element. In their vari

ous colors, the squiggles and zig-zags and slashes of neon resemble paint, but their linear nature makes them really more like drawing with light.

Moseley works with his neon and his surfaces in playful ways: the neon changes from one color to another mid-tube (actually it's the tube color that changes, but it looks like the light's changing); it glows from beneath clear surfaces, or hides behind solids to spread a glow across the adjacent wall that may change hue depending on what other neons it's interacting with. At times these lines of light look calligraphic, at times as if they're depicting shapes such as leaves. The overall look of these wall pieces is reminiscent of Frank Stella's three-dimensional paintings, but that doesn't rob them of their originality.

The free-standing works are inevitably more sculptural, and surprisingly they are more serious, too. In these, the neon plays the role of star, with the other elements offering background and support. Although Moseley's basic language of lines and shapes -- which is not a large one -- doesn't really change, the free-standing works are more unified, less a group of elements playing against one another.

These works have high-falutin' titles, some with classical references -- "Talos," "Endymion," "Gaea's Lovers" -- which do not add meaning so much as they try to give the pieces a snob-appeal veneer they neither need nor want. They do quite well on their own, thank you -- better than Moseley's non-neons here, which look a little dull by comparison.

QUENTIN MOSELEY

Where: Galerie Francoise et ses freres, Green Spring Station, Falls and Joppa roads.

When: Tuesdays through Saturdays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., through Jan. 4.

% Call: (410) 337-2787.

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