Friday, July 22, 2011

Hot Fusion

“Passage of the Americas-triptych”: Oil on canvas by Scott J. Morgan currently on display at B2 Fine Art Courtesy B2 Fine Art Gallery

Hot summer abstract paintings
The Weekly Volcano, July 21, 2011

Hot colors in bold abstract configurations are the order of the day at B2 Fine Art Gallery/Studio in Hot Fusion: Explorations into Abstraction. Hot Fusion, part one of a two-part show, is currently on display and features works by Todd Clark, Yvette Neumann, Judy Hintz Cox and Scott J. Morgan.

The art is beautifully crafted and well designed, but a wee bit too perfect for my taste - a little too slick and commercial. I prefer a little more rawness, unless it's purposefully cold with a machine-made look such as in hard-edge abstraction, which is a whole different animal from what we see here.

Of the four artists, Neumann has the most expressive style. Her large, two-panel painting, "Inflection," is controlled action in bright colors, with organic shapes flowing as though in a fast-moving river from upper left to lower right. Less bombastic but more nicely unified are a group of three smaller pieces that are predominantly yellow in color. Best of all are a couple of paintings with fields of loosely brushed white and gray with little bits of jagged shapes in many colors of rough and gritty paint that look as if they've been covered with a blanket of snow with little hints of what's hidden underneath peeking out here and there.

Morgan is showing a large group of paintings of interconnected ovoid and other organic shapes in various tones of mostly burnt sienna or brick red contrasted with dull greens and blues and woven together with dark contours, which lends these paintings the look of stained glass windows. There is a wonderfully subdued light effect in many of these.

Cox is showing paintings from two distinct series, one in oil on canvas with heavy impasto, and the other in oil and resin. The oil-and-resin paintings are globs of liquid-like contrasting colors in thick paint that looks as if it has been poured out of a big vat to divide the canvases into one or two large shapes. They are extremely high-gloss. A couple of these suffer from being hung in spaces where you can't get back and view them from a distance, and on these the high gloss surfaces are too reflective. The best of Cox's resin paintings is one with a very subtle field of green in the middle of a huge expanse of white.

Cox's best oil paintings are a couple of very large pieces in which heavy paint breaks the canvas into square and rectangular grids with very subtle collage elements. I didn't make note of the title, but it's the largest of the big, predominantly white paintings in the hallway going toward the back of the gallery. You'll surely recognize it when you see it. Look for large expanses of white with edges made of piled-up paint and small transparent areas with newsprint showing through.

I would encourage architects and decorators to take a look at this show because there are paintings here that would be perfect for banks or corporate headquarters or medical facility waiting rooms - they are very attractive and easy on the eye without being provocative.

Part two of this show, Cold Fusion, will open in November and feature the same artists working with cool tones. And, by the way, if you like the cold look of hard-edge abstraction check out the Safeco collection show at Tacoma Art Museum, which will be the subject of my column next week.
Hot Fusion

Through Aug. 6, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday–Saturday
until 8 p.m. Third Thursdays
B2 Fine Art Gallery/Studios
711 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma

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