Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Charles Burwell: 'Continuum'/Susie Brandt: 'Dam'

White Clusters & Blue Figures, 2007, oil on canvas, 16" x 16"

White Clusters & Blue Figures (detail)

Zones, 2007, oil on canvas, 23 1/2" x 18"

Stopped by the gallery to drop off a commissioned painting this afternoon and took the chance to see the Charles Burwell show sans the First Friday crowd. The show and work looked great. I've followed Burwell's work for years as a student and now I find myself exhibiting in the same gallery as him. Life's funny that way.

Burwell's canvases are filled with multiple layers of dripped paint patterns interspersed with hard-edged, sripped graphic elements-some curved and others straight. As inconcruous as this combination sounds, Burwell makes it work well. Using imagery that he began experimenting with in the 80's, Burwell adds layer upon layer of controlled paint drips and at some point, starts integrating the patterns and hard-edged curves into the works.

Also on display are several digital prints featuring his signature patterns in addition to multitudes of organic shapes. Some look like seashells and primitive life forms while others resemble cells of some sort, suggesting the intermingling of biology and technology. While digital, the prints have the look of very well executed etchings.

In conversation during the opening, Burwell told me that he never feels that the works are finished, regardless of how done they might look to the viewer. I've had those feelings myself about some of my exhibitions, but looking at Charle's paintings, I'd be hard-pressed to imagine anything else being done to them. The exciting thing is knowing he's nowhere near done and there's more to come, hence the title of his show, Continuum

Charles Burwell: 'Continuum' at Bridgette Mayer Gallery through October 27th, 2007

Vault Room:
Susie Brandt: 'Dam'

In the vault room is a piece by Baltimore-based textile artist, Susie Brandt. With Dam, Brandt has stacked folds of multicolored and texured fabrics along the back wall of the vault room at Bridgette Mayer. The first thing I noticed even before stepping into the truncated space was the vibrant colors and layers that allude to geology and other types of layering (metaphorical and literal). Secondly, the change in sound, or rather, the dampening of sound in the room brought another dynamic into play.

The fabric absorbs much of the sound that would ordinarily echo in the space, much the same as the walls of music studios. Not only are your visual senses engaged, your aural senses relay a message of calm that is at odds with the vibrant hues of the fabric. Dam works very well in the vault room and makes good use of an unusual space to great effect.

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