Sunday, February 16, 2014

Scully at Octavia, Sancton at Barrister's

Fashion is fickle, but art is eternal. Today one might say abstraction is quietly making a comeback but, in fact, it's been alive and well all along. Fashions change, but most artists remain fairly consistent. Even so, there is indeed a new breed of abstraction that reflects 21st century consciousness. Regina Scully's Terra Incognita expo at Octavia Gallery is a case in point. Inspired by the landscapes that exist both on the planet and in our dreams, Scully paints elaborate psychic territories that link those objective and subjective realms in compositions that suggest a kind of ethereal visual music. Here land masses and cities are evoked in shimmering, mirage-like forms that seem to exist in a kind of parallel universe that has the potential to take us places where we have never been before, as seen in Entrance, top. Luminous Deep, left, suggests a kind of elemental rhapsody of matter and energy that recalls a coloristic Shangri-La, or perhaps one of Gaston Bachelard or Italo Calvino's "invisible cities" that exist only in the recesses of reverie, yet reflect the resonances of intensely felt personal experience. In  art lingo, work that fulfills its potential is deemed "fully realized," and this show has many examples.

Sylvaine Sancton's abstract paintings and sculptures at Barrister's express a fully realized vision that transcends media. Whether it's paint, wood or travertine, Sancton's sinuous, organic forms are pristine articulations of the transcendent reality that she sees just beyond the ordinary reality we all share. One unusual attribute of this show is how the sculpture "explains" the paintings and vice-versa, making it clear that all reflect the same essential vision, which is just as much a "reality" as any "realistic" art, subjective though it may be. Or as she puts it: "The nature of my work is sensual and emotional. There are only lines, color, and matter... It does not represent reality. It is reality." ~ Bookhardt

Terra Incognita: New Paintings by Regina Scully, Through March 1, Octavia Art Gallery, 4532 Magazine St., 309-4249; Themes and Variations: Mixed Media by Sylvaine Sancton, Through March 1, Barrister's Gallery, 2331 St. Claude Ave, 710-4506. Left: La Contessa by Sylvaine Sancton.