Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ellzey at Soren Christensen; Tarver at Cole Pratt


 
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We think of this as the age of globalism, but conflicts between the local and the global are not entirely new. For Brantley Ellzey, who grew up in the Deep South, the clash between pop culture and old time religion is an ongoing interest. What they have in common is an emphasis on iconic imagery, which Ellzey uses as the basis for his elaborate constructions. MADONNA, right, suggests an altar, but not for any Blessed Virgin. No, it’s the material girl herself as she appeared in colorful magazine photos framed by an elaborate abstract grid of colorful, pencil-thin rolled magazine pages arranged at right angles reminiscent of Mondrian’s modernist paintings. In HELL, above, another grid looks chaotic as bunches of askew rolled pages frame antique engravings of demons. Order returns in HEAVEN, a minimal white grid that is almost oppressive in its regimented regularity, while ADAM, a human form constructed entirely from rolled pages, stands as fatefully stoic as the Burning Man effigy. But more than any one theme, it is the intricate inventiveness of these constructions that is the basis of their seductive intrigue.

Paul Tarver has long experimented with elaborate geometric forms as the basis of his densely textured paintings, most notably in works featuring muted colors and forms not unlike the elaborate lettering of ancient Celtic manuscripts. This time around, it’s the ancient wall paintings he encountered in Rome and Pompeii that sparked his imagination. IN TOTO is emblematic, a pastiche of serpentine curves and diagonal grids reminiscent of French Quarter ironwork. Overlaying those sinewy lines is a dense patina of drips and splatters like something left by Jackson Pollock’s ghost. It’s a dynamic seen in many of the others as well, so we are left with a sense of the ancient and the modern engaged in a kind of conceptual embrace, a temporal tango as eternal as the ebb and flow of the tides. ~Bookhardt
TRUE RELIGION, SACRED AND PROFANE: Constructions by Brantley Ellzey
Through May
Soren Christensen Gallery, 400 Julia St., 569-9501; www.sorengallery.com
TACTUS: New Oil and Encaustic Paintings by Paul Tarver
Through May
Cole Pratt Gallery, 3800 Magazine St., 891-6789; www.coleprattgallery.com