As the summer months unfold, the David Winton Bell Gallery is pleased to present Flora, an exhibition of works on paper drawn from the permanent collection. This eclectic group of photographs, drawings, and etchings re-imagines the traditions of landscape painting, still life, and floral portraiture through unconventional techniques and unusual subjects, while bringing together unexpected works by well-known artists.
Highlights include a recently acquired acrylic drawing by sculptor George Sugarman, known for his brightly painted and wildly curvaceous three-dimensional conglomerations. In keeping with is penchant for abstract biomorphic forms his Untitled drawing loosely evokes the head of a flower. Green paint is thickly applied around swirls of pink and short brushstrokes of white. These gestural marks suggest the voluminous while alluding to the kind of flora close-up on display in Tom Baril’s Three Poppies, 1997. Baril’s simple yet lively portrait is infused with humor thanks to the whimsical bends in each poppy’s stem.
In a pastel drawing by Jules Olitski from 1992, entitled Ancient Sea, the silhouette of a Cyprus tree floats before a plane of blues and pinks. By this late stage in the painter’s career Olitski had long since moved on from the color field painting for which he is most celebrated today. Nevertheless, the richly infused hues of sky and water evoke the saturated canvases of his earlier abstractions. The shaded tree and distorted perspective, by contrast, seem to borrow from the surreal spatial experiments of di Chirico’s landscapes.
Lucas Foglia’s photography Watermelon Patch, Twin Oaks Community, Virginia, 2009, similarly cultivates a sense of the surreal. Here, the damp and evocative lighting of a 17th century Dutch landscape painting is juxtaposed with the condensed space and high horizon lines of a late Van Gogh wheat field. Broken watermelons scattered throughout the foreground add a sense of melancholy to the otherwise bountiful landscape, while splices of red watermelon flesh and blue flowers animate the visual field and enhance the mysterious atmosphere.
Flora features work by Tom Baril, Harry Callahan, Dawn Clements, Sylvia Mangold, Jules Olitski, George Sugarman, Terry Winters, and others.