By Felicia Feaster | Creative Loafing Atlanta | Published 03/07/07
Impressed: An Exhibition of Original Prints
Verdict: A delightful array of prints.
By Catherine Fox
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/18/2007
Through March 31. $50 -$45,000. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Vinson Gallery, 119 East Court Square, Suite 100, Decatur. 404-370-1720, www.vinsongallery.com.
It is fitting that British printmakers Chris Pig works in black and white: The world he creates in his recent prints evokes film noir.
The linocuts at Vinson Gallery feature characters like the brazen gypsy who stares down the viewer in "The Whore of Destiny" and the shadowy guy who keeps his cards and his gun on the table in "Who Killed Sugar Baby?" The old soul in the romantic "Papuna" seems to be hiding a mysterious back story behind his careworn expression. There's even something slightly menacing about Pig's print of an artichoke.
Pig is a master of stagecraft. "Sugar Baby" pays homage to a murdered British anarchist, but the other characters are his fiction. The gypsy is a friend playing dress-up, and "Papuna" is a Russian-born musical instrument salesman in Decatur, whom Pig befriended at a bar.
He accentuates the drama through lighting and set design. In "Sugar Baby," for example, he reduces the composition to simple shapes, largely circles and ovals. A single, searing ceiling light illuminates the man and the table. "The Whore of Destiny" is a bravura orchestration of patterns.
The crisp lines, bottomless black planes and complex details in these prints demonstrate his technical command. His play with figure/ground recalls M.C. Escher, whose prints are also on view in this group show, but is also related to the Moorish decorative elements he fell in love with while living in Cordoba, Spain.
Fernando Feijoo displays a similar interest in people at the margins of society, but he takes a different tack. Positioning himself as a modern-day William Hogarth, who satirized English mores in the 18th century, Feijoo heads over to the seamy side of town, where drunks lie in the street, prostitutes solicit customers, jailbirds lean out of the prison bus and general mayhem prevails. Craft takes a back seat to style in his work, which is high-spirited, rough and cartoony, a la Red Grooms.
Anne Desmet is his polar opposite. She works small, sometimes producing images only 2 inches square. She is more interested in places than people, particularly architecture, which she renders meticulously but often subjects to aesthetic manipulation, as demonstrated in "Panorama," a sweeping but fragmented view of Italian rooftops. The control required to produce her level of detail on such a small scale renders her command of her craft all the more impressive.
OBJECT LESSONS: NEAT THINGS ON VIEW AROUND TOWN
By Catherine Fox
DATE: November 23, 2003
PUBLICATION: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
Diane Arbus as unsettling muse
Like many artists, Ruth Franklin uses other art to jump-start her own. For the paintings and charcoals in her lovely exhibition at Shawn Vinson Gallery (including the works above), she started with family snapshots, old master paintings and, most frequently and potently, the photos of Diane Arbus.
The late Arbus earned fame with discomfiting black-and-white photographs of people, often those marginalized in society. Franklin feels an empathy for Arbus' subjects, which comes out in her wonderful charcoal drawings -- a mix of careful description and elliptical line that emanates dignity. But when she makes a painting, she becomes more involved in the process of painting than in the subject. She introduces color, applied in broad, brushy strokes that render faces (critical to the Arbus effect) indistinct. Sometimes, she turns the photo upside down.
It's hard to know whether familiarity with the Arbus oeuvre affects how one reads these paintings. It seems that some of the individual subjects' oddness remains, especially in the awkward gestures of the mental institution patients. The tension between the tone and the juicy paint makes for interesting viewing.
Through Nov. 29. 119 E. Court Square, Decatur. 404-370-1720.