Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Charlotte Smith
Red Hot Current, 2015
acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 inches

ModernDallas.net repost

Wow, what a thoroughly fun opening at Cris Worley gallery a few weeks ago. It was pretty packed, but I was still able to pause in front of several art pieces that caught my eye. The show was titled Ambassadors, but it could have easily been titled Layers because both Charlotte Smith and Anna Elise Johnson use layered material to create attractive images.

I must say, that I have been a long time fan of Charlotte Smith’s art. She has taken an idea of little knobs of paint from her earlier work and created a flatter surface, but only by comparison to her past paintings. Her current body of work consists of pooling drops of paint layered on more drops paint. These globs seem to float on the surface of the canvas. So shiny and liquid in appearance, you can almost imagine the paint just sliding off and falling to the floor. The paint is dotted on in a way that makes the composition look random, yet like a Jackson Pollock painting, a rhythm seems to emerge. These are not a pictures of noise, but rather intentional flowing, built up paint distributed somewhat evenly. What at first glance seems to be a kind of maximalist painting, becomes rather minimal. Her rhythm of paint calms the small details. I am reminded of the problem in physics. Large physics like the movement of planets and stars seem smooth, whereas small physics, everything appears to be random, yet rhythm could be the key to reconciliation between the two. Smith’s paintings reconcile the random through the rhythm of her marks to create a calm, yet chaotic surface.

Anna Elise Johnson uses layers in a completely different approach. Hers is both layered in object and subject. Her objects are layered with acrylic, resin based adhesive, archival digital prints, India Ink, and spray paint to make these boxes that stand up as sculptures. The images encased inside depict historical meetings with world leaders. The leaders have been reduced to just silhouettes, which leaves the scene shrouded in mystery. Though the images have historical context, we as viewers can plug in the politicians we want into these political theater dioramas. I felt these boxes contained a great deal of theatrical content, much like a Matthew Bourbon painting. Something exciting, tragic, mundane, or momentous might be occurring in these images, but the ambiguity masks the full meaning, thus the viewer has to employ their own imaginative narrative into the work.

Both Charlotte Smith and Anna Elise Johnson have visually stunning works because of their technique in employing their materials. Elise Johnson’s boxes are a joy to walk around and the paint on Smith’s work seems to move as you move past the work. There isn’t a correct place to stand in relation to either of their works, because you get something new the moment you move to look at a different angle. You can see these these two Ambassador Extraordinaires until March 28th and I hope you enjoyed this tour d’horizon.

ModernDallas.net for more images.

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