Thursday, April 17, 2008

Silent Song Sung

"Father Ram" Oil on Theatre Muslin 2006

I went by Marcia Wood Gallery to catch the tail end of Kate Javen's solo show of paintings.

"Named for Derrick Bell" Oil on Theatre Muslin - 2006

Show statement: "Javens connects with the viewer by an empathy to her subjects – paintings of animals which are named for, and in fact stand as metaphorical portraits of, figures in American history; persons who represent, to Javens, an altogether admirable altruism and social activism that deserve to be commemorated."

"Named for Andrew Furuseth" Oil on Linen - 2005

You can read more about the under recognized, self-sacrificing, individuals which Javens celebrates in her work here.

"Named for Lucy Parsons No. 3" (Left side of image) Oil on Theatre Muslin

Javen's painting ability is undeniably gorgeous. Each painting consist of a very limited palette of colors but the continual tonal changes give the paintings rich depth, implied texture, and an altogether transparent yet discernible atmosphere.

"Named for Learned Hand" Oil on theater muslin - 2002

This show brought to mind the paintings of Monica Cook, another MWG artist skilled in representational oil painting. Both artists preferring to paint the subject within a vacuous space and while Javens creates portraits of animals and Cook prefers people, both artists use the subject to represent larger humanistic attributes. Unlike Cook, Javens does not implicate photography through the cropping of the frame but uses a straight documentary approach.

"Named for Lucy Parsons No. 4" Oil on Canvas - 2008

For me, this show raises the question of the role and weight of titles in artwork. Without the titles adding a historical twist and an interesting anthropomorphization in the interpretation of the animals depicted, the works would have been conceptually facile. While the depiction of the animals in each painting does convey a certain level of emotion on it's own, the artist's larger ambitions could not be realized without the titles.

"Named for Walt Whitman" - Oil on linen over wood panel - 2007

This moth does have a kind of Walt Whitman air about it, doesn't it?

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