Sunday, April 12, 2009

Northuis at Heriard-Cimino, Cox at Ferrara

As an art world influence, the renaissance approach to painting is with us still. Fusing renaissance techniques with idiosyncratic vision is an ongoing pursuit, but few are more idiosyncratic than Michael Northuis, who melds the cool virtuosity of Van Eyck and the expressionism of Otto Dix with sci-fi movie extravagance. COUPLE WITH ONLOOKERS suggests an expressionist space opera--the man's wears a bejeweled Conehead hat and the woman a Star Trek coif. They are really very close-in fact, they share the same torso, which subverts their otherwise pleasant proportions.

In CALYPSO, another couple gazes at a distant shore like a pair of space age vikings adrift in the Caribbean. In MARIACHI WEDDING, a space alien gaucho with a banjo serenades a busty Valkyrie from Venus handcuffed to a Nordic cowboy from Mars in what appears to be a laser-shotgun sort of wedding. If this suggests a stylistic smorgasbord, it's actually 100 percent pure Northuis, and while we never quite know exactly what he's doing, few can deny that he does it very well.

If Nortuis infuses the weird with the ordinary, Matthew Cox infuses the ordinary with the weird in paintings of people eating in a variety of, mostly prosaic, situations. Painted in a loose, figurative style reminiscent of Hogarth's oil sketches, Cox alludes to the vapid comedies of manners that result from various human cravings, the psychic as well as physical forms of emptiness. In this he hints at John Currin's uber-renaissance depictions of fleshly domestic banalities.
But Cox takes emptiness to another level entirely in his series of partially embroidered xrays of human heads and bodies, fleshing them out with strands of yarn that read like thick brushstrokes. Da Vinci it ain't, but the renaissance master of anatomy would no doubt appreciate the novelty. ~D. Eric Bookhardt
Expanded from Gambit


BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!-Paintings by Michael Northuis
Through April 28
Heriard-Cimino Gallery, 440 Julia St., 525-7300
A MOMENT ON THE LIPS-Paintings by Matthew Cox
Through April 21
Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, 400a Julia St., 522-5471
Expanded from Gambit
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