Thursday, August 22, 2013

Olympia Renaissance

Paris Reid paintings at Olyphant Art Supply

The Weekly Volcano, Aug. 22, 2013

“Francesco Hayez Master Study ‘The Kiss’” by Paris Reid
During the Renaissance artists learned their craft by spending countless hours in museums painstakingly copying the works of earlier masters. That kind of dedication and discipline is rare today, but we see it in Paris Reid’s paintings, a few of which are now on display at Olyphant Art Supply in Olympia (thanks to Tom Anderson for calling my attention to this show).
I have never heard of Reid and know nothing about her. Is she new to Olympia? Is she self-taught or has she formal art training? Are these paintings nothing more than copies or is there something about them that is unique to Reid? I suspect she is on a learning curve and headed toward finding her personal take on what she has learned from studying the masters. Her technique is astounding. 

She reminds me of local artist Lisa Sweet, whom I have often reviewed in this column, and who is a few steps further along that path. Reid is getting there.

There are six paintings in her show at Olyphant, most are in the style of Flemish or Italian Renaissance painters or other classical masters, the one exception being a portrait of Jimi Hendrix done in the psychedelic style of art represented by the ’60s and ’70s rock posters on display in the same gallery space — meaning she fits the style to the subject, an intelligent approach to art. 

Her painting “Francesco Hayez Master Study ‘The Kiss’” is an almost exact copy of a painting called “The Kiss” by the 19th century romantic artist Francesco Hayez. The colors tend more toward the yellow end of the spectrum, but that could be misleading because I’ve seen Hayez’ painting only in reproduction. Reid’s painting is softer, and the textures on the wall and clothing are more subdued; I like her painting better than the original.

Her painting “David Gray Master Study ‘Muse’” is a copy of a painting by a contemporary artist who paints in the style of the old masters — David Gray is from Tacoma and studied at PLU.
“Flemish Mondrian” is a unique homage to contrasting styles. It is a portrait of a woman in the style of the Flemish masters standing in front of a wall covered with decorative floral patterns, and on the wall is a framed painting by the modern master Piet Mondrian. The wall paper is collaged onto the canvas; or maybe I should say pasted on just as wall paper is pasted to walls. That is a modernist twist that reflects the manner in which Picasso and Braque used collage.
She is also showing a self-portrait, confirming my suspicion that she is a young artist, and a study of a horse taken after a study by Da Vinci.

My only complaints with this show are first, that I wish there were twice as many paintings in it, and second, the guitar strings in the Hendrix portrait are too gimmicky. They are real strings attached to the painting.

The psychedelic rock posters are from the collection of Tom Anderson and are posters from concerts at the Fillmore West in San Francisco circa 1969-70.

[Olyphant Art Supply, Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Sept. 4, 117 Washington St. NE, Olympia, 360.556.6703]

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