Exhibition: The Heart's Unrest
Saturday: March 7 through Saturday: April 11, 2015
Oxford Gallery's upcoming exhibit, The Heart's Unrest, features paintings in oil by Buffalo area artist Charles Houseman and Rochester artist David Dorsey.
Although an accomplished painter of portraits and landscapes, David Dorsey seems most at home in rendering things. But Dorsey’s still life compositions do not indulge lavish and artful arrangements. Usually they focus intensely upon one or two items: commonplace things which might normally escape our notice were they not made the subject of art. In the main, though, Dorsey’s paintings are not about what we see so much as about how we see. They may, for example, explore the ways in which context and proximity influence our perception, with juxtaposed patterns creating a sense of movement or juxtaposed colors reflecting each other and affecting our interpretation of each. Or they may provide us an unusual perspective, like his table-top still life paintings, or challenge us with a view in which the ostensible subject of the painting and the real focus of interest diverge.
A number of his paintings involve magnification of a single item far beyond its normal size, reducing the viewer correspondingly to Lilliputian stature. Enlarged in this manner, the items lose their identity as single objects, becoming instead studies in design and texture. Several paintings in the exhibit take skulls, human and animal, as their subject. These are not, however, the traditional memento mori, conveying the usual associations of death and temporality. They are presented rather as objects of aesthetic contemplation, and, instead of appearing gruesome, they invoke a celebratory tone.
Charles Houseman’s object studies share, at times, the enlarged and in-your-face manner of David Dorsey’s presentations. Their subjects seem to lie just beyond our fingertips and invite our touch. Yet Houseman’s focus seems more upon the differences between nature’s artistry and man’s. His depictions of natural objects convey the loving embrace of a naturalist.. He revels in the sinuous folds and spirals of natural forms, forms contrasted, as in “October Cloak,” with the hard symmetries of man-made structures. This dialogue between man’s urge to symmetry and permanence and nature’s chaotic abundance characterizes Houseman’s landscape paintings as well.
The exhibit includes several depictions of well known formal gardens, where nature’s sprawling energy seems to threaten the formal symmetries of Gilded Age landscape architects. In one painting of the Vanderbilt gardens, the serpentine vines threaten to subvert man’s “best laid plans” and reclaim the territory of the formal summer house, a fact given point by the spilled basket on the steps.
An Artists' Reception is planned for Saturday, March 14 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM.
The Reception is open to the public.