...e esgravata.

terça-feira, 6 de janeiro de 2009

tela: artificialismo lumínico.

Without Time, Without Place, 2003
Alan Feltus 2003

«There are nameless tensions, withholding and appeal, the separation of inner distance despite physical proximity. Alan Feltus: New Work presents an exploration of interpersonal energies: thirteen works in oil, carrying with them the warm radiance of the artist's residence in Umbria. Physically, these couples are together, often even touching; spiritually, they seem isolated, contained and bounded within the spheres of their own inner selves. The golden light and vulnerable, touchable flesh play off against the gestures of closure and demurrals of gaze. Yet the intensity is there: they are silent, retentive, purposely withdrawn, but they vibrate with an inner tension, both within themselves, and between the two of them. These works are well worth seeing.

Light is everywhere, a pure luminosity, a radiance which drapes itself creamily over flesh, cloth, landscape. Tones of amber, saffron, honey reappear throughout these works, suggesting warmth of surroundings and lending a radiance to the paleness of the exposed flesh of his subjects. What one sees here, in the precision and the radiance, is a tempera aesthetic executed in oils. Quickly, almost immediately drying, tempera requires a handling that is precise, delicate, and controlled. It was a medium in general use from ancient times until the 15th century, when it began to be supplanted by oil, slow-drying and reflective with jewel-like color. Tempera requires the artist to paint in terms of form; oil permits him to explore light reflected from the surface of forms. In these works Feltus finds the balance between both aesthetics. Well-defined edges bring a sharp awareness of outline, a sense of precision and control that reflects the inner control of the subjects, while the use of oil brings radiant depth of color, diffuse shading, and most of all, a sense of pure, transparent, magnificently illuminating light. In Morning Light (oil on linen: 43-1/4 x 31-1/2 in.: 2003) the tempera precision of the figure, the well-defined contours of the curve of her back and the sharp creases of her saffron-gold garment, define and isolate the figure with her gaze of wary appraisal -- while the subtle shading of her skin tones, the rich twists of the ivory drapery in the upper right, and the distant hills seen through a diffuse mist bring in sensual elements that true tempera would never permit.
Time Together, 2003;
Alan Feltus.
The overall atmosphere of golden light and warm, touchable flesh underscores the irony of withdrawn containment. The figures compose themselves with grace, but it is the body language of closure and distance. Gestures seal off and protect: elbows rebuff, hands and eyes withhold caress and gaze, or direct their looking outward or askance. The protective forearm, the closed hand, the withheld gaze all appear in Low Hangs the Moon (oil on linen: 39-1/2"x47-1/2": 2003). A lonely Adam and Eve in a solitary landscape, the two figures seem on the verge of argument or flight. The man shields himself with forearms and the long pole of an oar, his longing an inner force emerging solely through his eyes. The woman twists in indecision, the point of her elbow pushing him away, the tilt of her shoulders already lending a sense of the momentum of departure. Arms that might open in embrace are locked down firmly, left hand on her shoulder, the right buried against her hip; while the lingering low moon lights the flat pantomime landscape. The Walt Whitman poem referenced by the title is a further resonance of longing and loss:

Till of a sudden,
May-be kill'd, unknown to her mate,
One forenoon the she-bird crouch'd not on the nest,
Nor return'd that afternoon, nor the next,
Nor ever appear'd again.

In other works the poised, controlled stillness calls to mind a mysterious suspension of time: a long silent afternoon in a big country house, an ennui of nothing to do and no desire to communicate with one's companions, or that passive and curious limbo of waiting to depart for one's airplane or train. Without Time, Without Place (oil on linen: 39-1/4 x 47-1/8 in.: 2003) evokes an inertia, physically and emotionally. The female is fully at rest on her hip, uninclined to move; the male has his center of gravity slumped down and back against the striped cushions; and their psychological attitudes are similarly ones of passivity and lassitude. The hanging jacket forms a divisive vertical, isolating them to their respective halves of the canvas, while the form of the chair (above the woman) and small cabinet (above the man) further box them into their own individual spaces. Gaze, too, is line, and in these works the subjects' gazes never meet: here, the male appealing outward to the viewer, the female staring into a vague distance beyond his left foot; all elements conspiring to seclude them in their own private worlds, even as the tightly limited space implied by the low, close baseboard pushes them toward one another.

And yet... there is a new closeness in these works, a unity-in-separation. In earlier compositions, arms and legs pointed here and there in different directions, like arrows on a signpost. Here, limbs and bodies are composed with greater unity. In Without Time, Without Place it is seen in the sweeping flow of the woman's reclining hips and legs, which coupled with the repetition of striped patterns melds the couple into a single compositional unit. In Behind Mt. Subasio (oil on linen: 39-1/4 x 47-1/4 in.: 2003) the vertical of the woman's knees suggests a division, a barrier thrust between herself and her partner; but the combined figure created by the overlapping bodies of the pair, male and female, as well as the mirrored gesture of both their outermost arms and hands makes these two, one. Their heads bend toward one another, and a sweeping curve unites both figures in a double arabesque echoed by the cropped portion of the window above and behind them. They are just as reserved as many of Feltus's earlier subjects, but there is an intimacy in their tension, a subtle force of unspoken communication, and the viewer is almost an intruder, as someone walking in on the charged silence after an argument.

Similarly, in Time Together (oil on linen: 59 x 39-1/2 in.: 2003) the male seems strangely indifferent to the provocative nudity of his partner, poised in sensuous reverie before him on her green wooden chair. Yet the negative space created by his knee and her torso deserves close scrutiny: it is a communion, a oneness. As a further unifying force, the bent curve of his right leg and foot a smaller echo of the reverse curve formed by her torso and legs; and other such mirrorings and unifiers can be seen on further observation. What seems at first glance in each of these works to be the figures of an estranged couple yields, on further viewing, a rewarding complexity of formal composition, color and elements that both divide, and unify: a composition with significant appeal and strength, both aesthetically and in the subtlety of emotional tensions it posits.

The day-dreaming woman in Time Together with her soft cloth undergarments and the semi-reclining figure with one knee drawn up in Behind Mt. Subasio bring hints of Balthus, hearkening to that artist's Girl with Cat (Jeaune fille au chat) (1937) and even more, his Therese Dreaming (Therese revant) (1938). Like Balthus, these works by Feltus share a sense of dreaming, the suspension of time, a figure in an intimate setting, exposed to the viewer, yet locked away in inner focus. But while Balthus executes a controlled smolder of eroticism, a subtext of Freudian sensuality, Feltus evokes a sensuality of light and color, as well as the body as exquisite instrument. In his sensitive renderings of the contours of slim hands and feet, the pale, tender shadows and hollows of flesh, the artist stresses a human vulnerability that balances and indeed makes poignant the determined emotional reserve.

Such reserve also makes itself felt in the six portraits which accompany the large-scale works in this exhibition. Figures such as Etta (oil on linen: 13-3/4 x 11-3/4 in. : 2003) and Adrianna (oil on linen: 13-3/4 x 9-3/4 in.: 2003) seem remote, pensive with inner misgivings. Those not preoccupied with internal tension offer to the viewer a face of guarded, urban defensiveness. This particular series seems to hold less expressive power than prior works. Feltus's earlier portraits were done against unfeatured grounds of terra-cotta hue, reminiscent of the faces of 1st- and 2nd-century Roman mummy cases in Egypt: earnest, sensitively-rendered, a necessary memento of human presence and individuality. The presentation against a blank ground focused the onlooker into a detailed scrutiny of the facial image for clues to mood and personality. In these new works the clearly delineated backgrounds, including outdoor vistas of clouds and trees, lend an almost too-strong sense of 'place' that dilutes the attention focused on the figure, and draws it instead into the distance for clues to the subjects' tensions.

Viewing this exhibition one must admit a slowly growing curiosity of family resemblance. With their similar features and differing names, one wonders at the artist's model, one woman, two, then three -- a family of sisters? In reality the model Feltus employs, even for the women, is himself -- a curious and intriguing finding, that adds mystery and interest to these thirteen works, which become both portrait and exploration of self and otherness, maleness and femaleness -- a tension possibly not just internal between two imagined persons, but between two aspects of self.

Tennessee Williams called it "solitary confinement in one's own skin." Feltus displays it with eloquence of gesture and glance. Warm with light, in spare surroundings, Feltus's dual portraits yield a clean precision silent with the wordless tensions of solitary proximity. There is much to see in these thirteen works of subdued enigma and internal, interpersonal energies. Resonant with separation and togetherness, with avoidance and appeal, Alan Feltus: New Work is worth a special trip. The exhibition will be at Ann Nathan Gallery through mid-July, 2003.

--Katherine Rook Lieber

Katherine Rook Lieber has edited ArtScope.net's Visual and Performing Arts reviews since 1998. Ms. Lieber is Editor and Associate Producer for ArtScope.net.

Editorial Note: Alan Feltus was previously reviewed by ArtScope.net in May 2000 in Alan Feltus: New Paintings (http://www.artscope.net/VAREVIEWS/Feltus0500.shtml). Walt Whitman is quoted from the poem "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" from Leaves of Grass. Tennessee Williams is quoted from his play "Night of the Iguana." » +daqui.

outras figuras. outros corpos empastados pela luz modelar. artificíos interiores. corpos que são massas. paisagens desérticas. esculturas "bidimensionais" soli[átiros]damente
aparentes. : +aqui.

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