Cynical humor marks new exhibit
BY KEVIN COSTELLO
Figurative painting reflects more than a millennia of tradition and ideas; abstraction no more than a century.
In terms of just looking, it is the only significant difference between the two styles. The former uses external, recognizable forms to express a thought or emotion; the latter, internally motivated pattern-making to achieve a similar aesthetic outcome.
For the last century, one orientation has succumbed to the other only to reinvent itself, return to favor and dominate for a time. It is an endless cycle.
This issue comes to mind when viewing "Lynn Davison: Recent Work" at Sarasota's Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art, a show as strong as Davison's last at the gallery two years ago.
A resident of Naples and a graduate of the Ringling School of Art and Design, Davison is a gifted figurative painter, as illustrated by the approximately 30 paintings on view.
Davison's world is one of cynical humor mixed with foreboding. Figures, both nude and clothed, negotiate predicaments that cannot be fully explained but inherently make sense due to her tactile modeling of form, props and staging.
In these new paintings, Davison's figures continue to be silent actors in nonspecific dramas of decrepitude or acts of torment by one character upon another.
As before, her style can stand comparison with the stark realism of English painter Lucian Freud and the dark mysticism of Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum -- two artists to which she is clearly indebted.
Davison has often said that anyone who is a good figurative painter can learn from other like-minded artists. She will tell you that she doesn't exactly know what's going on in her paintings, that the paintings change many times in process, and that she tries not to analyze them.
In this exhibit, along with her sober subject matter, is a new, lighter air. "Nap Time" is a painting of a sleeping mother and child, beautifully realized in flesh and earth tones. Its unity derives as much from design conceptions of balance in line and color as any abstract painting.
Davison's images are stills from a comedy of errors to which we can hopefully connect.
Last modified: January 06. 2006 6:45AM
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