Artist focuses on art in dance, effect of motion

Review: Andre Barnett grew up surrounded by abstract expressionists, but his work reflects a different vision centered on movement.

May 28, 2000|By Jacqueline Jolles | Jacqueline Jolles,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Former Westminster resident Andre Barnett grew up surrounded by artists. His parents were second-generation abstract expressionists who lived in New York in the 1950s and on occasion mingled with the 20th-century master Willem de Kooning.

Although Barnett had an early connection to the abstract expressionist period, his artwork has little in common with this revolutionary movement. Rather, his work reflects a casual interest in Matisse and Picasso as he focuses on the art of dance and motion.

Barnett is the artist on exhibit at the Langdon Family Art Gallery at Carroll Community College in Westminster. "Stillness in Motion" portrays dancers in motion in watercolor, lithography and photography.

"Photo 1" unveils a dancer who is a swirling mass of fluttering darkness. The subject appears out of focus, depicted in translucent brown and orange layers. The dance activity is blurred yet retains the essence of an energetic presence.

Barnett received his bachelor's degree in fine arts from American University in Washington. A Baltimore resident, Barnett has discovered the Goya Girl Press in Baltimore as a place where he can experiment with the printing medium he explored in college.

Two figures are in "Litho II" encompassed in a blanket of purple-blue ink. These human figures - in red and blue lines - emulate some Picasso lithography. In contrast, the background displays a rich ink-covered surface. The only sense of movement comes from a white-paper hand shape.

The art of printmaking often illustrates a bridge connecting the diverse art worlds of graphic design and fine arts. Edvard Munch's "The Scream" is an example of this fusion. This print represents a one-of-a-kind image that has become a commercial visualization of 20th-century angst and horror.

Barnett, a senior graphic designer for the public relations department at Morgan State University in Baltimore, returned recently to fine arts. Most of his work at Carroll Community College represents this rekindled interest.

As a graphic designer with a fine-arts background, it is appropriate Barnett would be interested in a medium like printmaking, which can accommodate graphic design and fine-art concepts.

Barnett also has embraced watercolor.

"Recently, I started using watercolor because it is a medium that is very unforgiving, but by being so it forwards the action [of painting]," he said. "You get what you get; therefore, I accept what I paint and I have finished work."

Because Barnett is comfortable working with watercolor, it's not surprising "The Hug After" is one of the show's more successful pieces.

This image illustrates a couple loosely defined through shapes painted one over the other. Where the male starts and the female begins can only be discovered between thin beige-brown brush-strokes and peach-salmon washes. Their embrace surfaces through daubs of pink and blue.

"The Hug After," like most of the art exhibited here, is sparsely rendered. But unlike other pieces, this watercolor gains visual strength and cohesiveness through prolonged gaze. Finally, through black and gray sponge-like imprints, this portrait of intimacy reflects a pattern reminiscent of Matisse.

"Stillness in Motion" continues through Thursday in the Langdon Family Art Gallery, 1601 Washington Road.

Gallery hours are 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. tomorrow through Thursday.

Information: 410-386-8256.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.