Wednesday, August 26, 2015

SWELTER at Kirk Hopper Fine Art

Shayne Murphy, Big Black, Oil on panel, 2015 repost by Todd Camplin

Now that summer actually feels like summer, group shows are heating up the Dallas art scene. Kirk Hopper Fine Art melts together style and subject in a show titled Swelter, only the subject is a bit heavier than your typical summer read. This is Giovanni Valderas’ first curated exhibition at Kirk Hopper Fine Art and I had high expectations after his dynamic shows at Mountainview College.

Giovanni Valderas said, “I wanted to add an edge of intensity to the show by inviting artists who were having a dialogue about current issues of substance.” In light of this, Linda Blackburn and Ed Blackburn were perfect for touching on the hot button issues. Linda Blackburn washes out her figures and leaves a shell of what looks like film stills or journalist pictures. In similar fashion Ed Blackburn’s paintings touch on topical issues by directly responding to the news as it breaks. An accompanying text painting hangs next to his large image painting. Ed marries the usually vacuous Pop style with highly thought provoking conceptualism to create a hybrid where image and text play off each other. High concept and simple figurative aesthetics combined to form a political punch that is not preachy, but still in you face.

Carlos Donjuan also plays with contradictions. I found his work titled Tired of Dreaming, incredibly cute and creepy. I don’t think I would have paid it much mind if not for my five year old girl pointing it out. She asked me why the picture was sad. I said it was that the faces had slight smiles, but she insisted it was a sad image. But, she thought the two headed duck was cute, as did I. The boy’s mask in the picture was most revealing. People under some kind of mask seem to be Donjuan’s motif obsession. Michael Reeder has a piece that looks to be a silhouette or maybe masked like Donjuan, but Reeder adds an element of decay that makes the work somewhat haunting. I feel like the face was erased from the painting.

Some of the best art is made when an artist takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary. When it comes to photography, few people bother with this approach, but thankfully an exception happens to be in the show. Sebastien Boncy has been taking the most ordinary experiences and recording them, yet the images are completely compelling. The urban life paused, without driving by, can be beautiful. I was excited to see Boncy in the show. Shayne Murphy plays around with this idea of extraordinary place in his work, Big Black. Murphy depicts a landscape that looks abandoned and further isolated it my placing the architectural object in a negative space. This highlights the object and make you want to come in for a closer look.

Some works felt like a direct contrast to one another, even though the works were far apart. Analise Minjarez and Sarita Westrup’s installation outside was eye catching and colorful. While Annette Lawrence’s candle images, located near the front of the gallery, were soulful and solemn. Nine individual candles could easily be the nine that lost their lives in South Carolina. Their lights shine on for change, but the loss is felt deeply. Lawrence’s installation was hopeful and I felt Minjarez and Westrup show a little hopefulness as well.

Like all group shows, I can’t talk about all the work in the show, because there are too many to mention, but I feel I could have mentioned just about every piece and said something positive about the work. Kirk Hopper Fine Art and Giovanni Valderas put on a fine show this summer. I look forward to his strong critical eye making an impact on the Dallas art scene. The show runs through August 16th.

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