Sunday, July 1, 2018

Hornback, Nevil & Sohr at New Orleans Art Center

Art movements come and go but their legacies remain with us. The art movement known as Imagism was an American form of pop-expressionism that arose in places as varied as Chicago, California and Louisiana. Here it was infused with Magic Realist and Latin-Caribbean influences in the work of the iconic Visionary Imagist movement associated with the Galerie Jules Laforgue, a legendary Marigny-based space that in the 1980s launched the careers of Jacqueline Bishop and Douglas Bourgeois – as well as far more reclusive artists like Ann Hornback. Although publicity shy, Hornback has been remarkably consistent as we see in her recent canvas, Immersion, where her deeply psychological vision gives us an alligator woman like a bayou Aphrodite arising from the waters in an alligator mask and matching evening dress under golden, gator-like clouds. Lit by a setting sun and rising moon, its shape-shifting poetics recall ongoing themes seen in her nearby earlier works where ecological and gender intrigue is similarly defined by sleekly bold patterning.

A very different mindset appears in the profoundly mysterious oeuvre of Algiers native Larry Nevil, whose vision often recalls the musings of primitive “outsider” artists -- so his recent interview on a Milwaukee radio station may be surprising for the way this articulate and deeply spiritual artist reveals his profound empathy for, well, just about everyone. Even so, the sharp ironies of works like his expressionistic Country Girl (above) take on an earthy rural lady, may provoke bafflement in some even as his work has found a new following among art collectors in Chicago, a city known for its long history of artistic irony.

Wisconsin native Jim Sohr, an ongoing gallery presence, has much in common with many Chicago Imagists as we see in the psychedelic swerves of Abstract, a visual maze painting like a chrome - heavy Harley Davidson suddenly encountering a wavy gravy vortex of topographical and psychological cul-de-sacs in a visual parable of the need for speed clashing with the intractable intricacies of the imponderable. ~Bookhardt / Expect Delight: Paintings by Ann Hornback, Larry Nevil and Jim Sohr, Through July, New Orleans Art Center, 3330 St. Claude Ave. (707) 779-9317.