Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Review: Excavation

[image, Horse, paint on canvas]

Recent Work by Jennifer Meanley
at Alchemy art + aesthetics
in the Murphy Art Center in Fountain Square

Every now and again I find myself surprised when going into a gallery and find something that just grabs me visually. This seems to happen a little less these days, particularly here in Indianapolis. Perhaps this is due to the limited number of artists or art venues in the city or maybe it is the fact that I spend a good portion of my week looking at art. But this last First Friday, while making my rounds, I found myself impressed with the works of Jennifer Meanley.

[image, Circus rejects under the tangle wood tree, paint on canvas]

In this, the first, solo show that Alchemy Art + Aesthetics has exhibited turned out to be one of the strongest painting shows I have seen around here for awhile. The show, titled Excavation, consists of a couple of drawings, some small portrait paintings and a few large scale paintings. It is the large paintings that fill the space and leave such an impact on the viewer. Large, colorful and visually complex paintings that draw you into their world. The images, strange amalgams of people, forests and animals. Whether intended or not I can't help but feel that there is an essence of A Midsummer Night's Dream evoked by these paintings, something mysterious and at times unsettling. The large scale of these works add to their power, something that seems amiss in the smaller portraits. While the smaller paintings are nice in their own rite, they seem overwhelmed by the other works.

[image, Devoured, paint on canvas]
What I like most about the large paintings is the Meanley's confidence in her paint handling. The paintings have a substance and depth to them that please my love of paint, while the imagery within the paintings imply a vague sort of narrative that allows for some personal interpretations. This vagueness allows me to spend time with the painting, wondering about its meaning and the tale that is taking place before my eyes. Though I thouroghly enjoyed the paintings the drawings left a bit to be desired, though a big part of that may have had to do with their presentation and mounting. I think you should go and check out this show before it leaves. It is worth it and while your there you can even get your hair styled. Two birds, one stone...

Also of note: Go and see the Fred Stonehouse show at Ruschman Gallery for another wonderful example of painting this month.

3 Responses to “Review: Excavation”

Liriodendron said...
February 22, 2007 at 7:21 AM

These paintings look beautiful! I really enjoy looking at them also....That horse is birthing?! The link took me to a fab looking hair salon, so an artist name google got a bit about the show.....

~~Artist's Statement: When I paint, I consider myself a storyteller; however what I really seek to do is engage the viewer in the sensation of having a dream or recalling a memory from the distant past. The paintings become about remembering what it is like to feel the reactive, visceral and sensual side of being human.

I enjoy painting about things that can be both: beautiful and grotesque; stricken and joyful. Painting feels in some ways like an excavation: peeling back the layers of subjective experience to extract its most salient features.~~

Great stuff! Uh....are they oil or acrylic? They have a lovely translucent look of watercolor on my screen, but I read canvas somewhere....

Scott said...
February 22, 2007 at 11:49 AM

Yeah, Alchemy is both an art gallery and a hair salon, seriously. Imagine those long hair appointments where you are just sitting there staring at haircare products or listening to gossip from people you can care less about, well at Alchemy you can stare off at some interesting art shows but don't get me wrong, if you have never been there it isn't as if there are art works hanging over the barber chair or anything like that. In fact it is sort of two seperate spaces that are open as one. Think loft living. I could not find my notes when I went to write the review but I believe they are in fact oil on canvas. I will have to go back and take a look once again. If you get the opportunity, you should see them in person.

Saint Robert said...
February 28, 2007 at 3:48 PM

Appreciate all the good words and I'm glad you enjoyed the work. The show is going to remain up through the month of March.

I agree about the hanging of the hanging of those drawings. They are stubborn little bastards, made with rabit skin glue, causing the paper to warp and shrink. Jennifer likes this and wanted them to be hung in a way that this could be featured. It's the second time I've shown her drawings and I've still not come up with a better solution than what she'd had in grad school.

Also, we do have a gallery myspace.

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