The Weekly Volcano, November 21, 2012
|Portraits in oil on glass by Ray Turner
This show is a psychological tour de force and an artistic tour de force. It is Lucien Freud meets Chuck Close. Turner's portraits have the intensity of Freud's figures, and like the best of Close's portraits they are simultaneously realistic and stylized, painted with a direct, head-on point of view and isolated on flat, unadorned backgrounds. The faces are painted on the glass, which is on top of the flat, single-hued surfaces, so there is physical depth of a fraction of an inch, and with the incredibly thick paint there is a feeling of even more depth.
Some of the eyes and mouths in the "Good Man/Bad Man" group appear to be deep caves. The show begs to be viewed in two ways: up close for careful inspection of the individual portraits and from a distance to see the patterns of color modulations from piece to piece, which are beautifully arranged - especially on the title piece, a grid of portraits covering 21 feet of one wall. This wall would be stunning even if there were no faces but just the flat color squares. Then upon closer views we see that in most of them he repeats variatons on the background colors in the faces, which creates a marvelous warm glow without distorting the realism of the natural face and hair color.
|Detail from Good Man/Bad Man series. All photos courtesy the artist.
For each venue as this show travels around the country, Turner paints portraits of local people. For Tacoma, he has included portraits of the Museum's glassblowers, youth from the Hilltop Artists in Residence Program and Jason Lee Middle School, members of the Puyallup Tribe, local artists and some of his alumni from Stadium High School.
MUSEUM OF GLASS, RAY TURNER: POPULATION, THROUGH JUNE 3, 2013, 10 A.M. TO 5 P.M. WEDNESDAY-SATURDAY, NOON TO 5 P.M. SUNDAY, $5-$12, 1801 DOCK ST. TACOMA,