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Tension gives show an energy beyond the ordinary
By Joe Quattro


Exploring the human figure and condition

The h uman figure appears up and down Canyon Road but a particular group of figures is stopping at one place to make a point.

"As people have tired of conceptual art, they have developed a new‑fouund appreciation for artwork that truly speaks to them," Tonya Turner Carroll said while discussing her gallery's current show. "The figure speaks to us and moves us the most because it is a reflection of ourselves. 'Figurative Renaissance: Past Two' opens with a reception from 5 to 7pm. today Aug. 6. at Turner Carroll
Gallery The show runs through August and features Turner Carroll selection of "the best figurative painters working today," she said.

The show includes the works of five artists: Valori FusselI (California) Sherry Kerlin (New York ) Will Wilson (California): and two New Mexico artists, Michael Bergt and Geoff Laurence.

All excellent at their crafts, those technically skilled artists pursue an interest in the human form, and the human condition, creating portraits and images that reflect human feelings and identity According to Victor Hugo. "The eves are the windows to the soul," But the portraiture in this exhibition delves way beyond the eyes.

"I present man, in my works, not as entirely noble nor pathetic but as a being with a unique set of circumstances," Bergt said, referring to his latest work. Bergt's egg‑tempera paintings make literary and art references. Leda's Swan refers to the poetic myth. The image is calmly and skillfully rendered with vibrant colors and delicate brush strokes. Half Shell is a modern interpretation of the Venus myth.
In the tradition of Botticelli, the painting explores human gesture and composition. Bergt also sculpts in bronze. "Some images need to be two dimensional (while) others need to be three‑dimensional, depending on the form." Bergt said, referring to his use of two mediums for expression. "My work asserts that it is man's character to defy limits and to dream. It is in this process that he lies."

The bronze sculpture Fallen Angel depicts an ordinar ylooking man balancing on one foot. He's a portly fellow, humanly comical in his representation as an angel. His one wing is strapped on. While gazing upward. He wears an aviator's cap, the straps flapping at his temples. This Fallen  Angel lives in the space between heaven and earth.

Fussell's portraits speak and live in subtle ways. Her earlier portraits show influence from Bellini, a warm palette and classical composition. Fussells more recent images are rendered with such precision, they appear to rise from the canvas, more lifelike and three‑dimensional.

"A nurse looked at this drawing and told me the woman has two kinds of arthritis," Fussell said, referring to an elderly woman's portrait. 'She could see it in her hands. 'The more years I draw and paint the form, the more sculptural it appears in my work" In the lifesize painting Saint Fred, a young man has a prophetlike appearance. Wearing no shoes, modestly dressed, he is positioned with a walking stick. He leans against a wall and looks off, an expression that exudes a past, where he has been, and a present state, wondering where life is heading. In his moment of reflection, the figure arrests the viewers attention, the way life sometimes does.

Laurence takes another approach. He graduated from the New York Academy of Art. a hardcore institution of precision. 'There is no such thing as realism," Laurence said. "There's only unrealism. You can't make people out of paint.' Laurence uses a five‑color palette. All natural tones, his palette minors European Masters Van Dyke and Bronzini (sic) while accomplishing the skin values rendered by Titian.

In Healing II, a powerful, large painting of two figures. Laurence captures the beauty and complexity of figures in nature. A woman lies dying while a man kneels beside her with his arms outstretched. Is he offering a sacrifice to the heavens or pleading for help?

Laurence's influence is classical but his edge is contemporary. The figures are modern, living in a modern space, searching for age‑old ideals and for their relation to what is beyond the everyday.
Each artist in the show speaks a specific language. They relate to one another, creating among images a dynamic that gives the show tension, an energy beyond the ordinary.

Drawings also are part of the exhibition. 'A Collector's Preview' by invitation only will inaugurate the upstairs space at Turner Carroll Gallery. That space will be open to the publie after the reception today.



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