Sunday, March 16, 2014

Jeffrey Pitt at Octavia, Juan Logan at the Ogden Museum

The title of Jeffery Pitt's new show, Everything is Connected, is based on ancient wisdom, but science didn't get the message until modern physics came of age a century or so ago. Here Pitt's related holistic sensibilities appear in colorful canvases that deploy abstract patterns suggesting formal similarities between nature's biggest and tiniest structures. For instance, Metamorphosis in Violet, top, is a rhythmic arrangement of gnarly forms that initially suggests a cross section of petrified wood, but look again and it could be an infrared satellite photo of the coastline of Crimea. Up close the details evoke tribal tattoos or Keith Haring's  grafitti-like figures. In Fertility Dance, figurative forms appear in an interlocking puzzle pattern like an electric green and black compositional rhumba. This is Pitt's traditional style, but he also branches out in trippy new directions like Bacteria, above, where deeply hued cellular pathogens look improbably appealing, even recalling the celestial aura of some of Van Gogh's starry sky paintings. It's all fairly head-spinning, but the connections just keep on coming.

At the Ogden, Juan Logan's stylized abstract landscape paintings are fraught with the weight of history yet, perhaps paradoxically, therein lies their allure. In the North Carolina-based artist's Chowan Beach canvas the vibrantly hued landscape is seductive yet its sharply defined edges evoke the Jim Crow era of segregated beaches amid the natural bounty. In his Nola based Lincoln Beach, left, a slithery Mississippi seems to snake dance in counterpoint to the big, blue ovoid lake, and here too the contrasts are sharply defined. Similar tensions appear in Some Clouds Are Darker, above, where glittery black droplets fall from a blood red sky on to a patchwork landscape. For Logan, abstraction is not only not detached, it's a bluntly beautiful instrument for his pithy ruminations on our evolution as a nation. ~Bookhardt

Everything is Connected: New Paintings by Jeffrey Pitt, through March 29, Octavia Art Gallery, 4532 Magazine St., 309-4249; I'll Save You Tomorrow: Paintings and Sculpture by Juan Logan, through July 20, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp St., 539-9600. Left: The Dry Grin by Juan Logan.