Artist's works draw our attention because they're picture perfect

Realism: Anne Marie Fleming's precise pastels are paintings that look like photographs.

Fine arts

March 27, 2001|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,SUN ART CRITIC

When photography was invented in 1839, some observers predicted that painters would soon be put out of business by the camera's incredible powers of imitation.

That never happened, of course. While daguerreotypes did replace miniature painted portraits, the art of painting in general reacted by gradually moving away from literal representation, a process that eventually gave rise to the various abstract aesthetics of the modernist era.

Still, what goes around comes around, and it was probably only a matter of time before painters decided to challenge the camera's mastery of illusion.

In the 1970s, such photorealist artists as Don Eddy and Audrey Flack produced uncannily realistic paintings whose minutely detailed descriptions of store windows and other objects almost exactly imitated the optical qualities of images produced by camera and lens.

Photorealism was part of a general resurgence of realism that marked American painting during the 1970s, and which faded out again over the next two decades. Its influence, however, can still be felt in the work of artists who are fascinated by the tension between the appearance of objective reality and its subjective significance.

The approach taken by Anne Marie Fleming, whose large pastel drawings will be on view at Steven Scott Gallery from April 5 through June 2, recalls the brilliant illusions of Eddy and Flack. But where those artists painted urban scenes or small domestic tableaux, Fleming has made the natural landscape her subject. Her pictures of woods, trees and greenery possess a supernatural verisimilitude that's almost scary.

Photographic realism as a style resembles the impression of a sharply focused photograph in which the precision of detail is rendered evenly over the whole picture surface without regard to variations in visual or psychological interest.

The evenness of treatment tends to give the work a corresponding impersonality and conceptual anonymity that strips the familiar subject of its romantic and sentimental associations. Fleming's hyper-real landscapes are deeply felt, yet they are compelling precisely because they don't look like conventional picture postcards.

Steven Scott Gallery is at 515 N. Charles St. Hours are noon to 6 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays. Call 410-752-6218.

Around town

Fleming is just one of the intriguing artists whose work will be on display at Baltimore-area venues in the next few weeks:

Prints, drawings and paintings by Baltimore artist Timothy App are on view through May 20 at Goya-Girl Press, 3000 Chestnut Ave., Suite 214. Hours are weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment. Call 410-366-2001.

One of the area's newest venues, Fleckenstein Gallery in Towson, presents "4 X 4," featuring works by a quartet of Maryland printmakers: Sally Hopkins, Andrea McCluskey, Marjorie Talle Merriman and Phyllis Wright, through the end of the month at 29 Allegheny Ave. in Towson. The gallery is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. Call 410-296-8588.

Craig Flinner Gallery presents "Vanishing Points: Disappearing Baltimore Views" The show, which opens next Tuesday and runs through April 30, features drawings and paintings of typical Baltimore locales by Greg Fletcher and Leslie Schwing. The gallery, at 505 N. Charles St., is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Call 410-727-1863.

The Maryland Institute, College of Art presents a thesis exhibition by Seong-Min Ahn and Nami Yamamoto in the Fox 3 Thesis Gallery from Friday through April 8. The gallery, at 1300 W. Mount Royal Ave., is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Call 410-225-2280.

Towson University presents a multi-faceted installation by Leigh Maddox April 5-21 in Towson's Union Art Gallery at 8000 York Road. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Call 410-830-2787.

Beginning April 14, OXOXO Gallery presents "Color on Metal." a group exhibit of jewelry and sculpture curated from the newly released book "Color on Metal: 50 Artist Share Insights and Techniques," by Tim McCreight and Nicole Bsullak. The exhibit continues through May 17 at 1617 Sulgrave Ave. Hours are 11 a.m to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and by appointment. Call 410-466-9696.

Villa Julie Gallery presents "Confluence: Selections from the Collection of Marilyn and Reginald Camphor" through April 28. There will be a lecture on the exhibit at 12:15 p.m. April 5 at the gallery, 1525 Greenspring Valley Road. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays; and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Call 410-486-7000.

The H. Lewis Gallery presents "Inception," a group exhibit featuring local artists Brian Anderson, Tony Cox, Judd Hertzler and Brad Staba. The show opens tomorrow and runs through April 29 at 1500 Bolton St. Gallery hours are 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Call 410-426-4515.

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