Areas of Refuge review Ct Art Scene
New review for "Areas of Refuge" at Giampietro Gallery by Hank Hoffman for CT ART SCENE
Monday, June 20, 2011
Willard Lustenader's pure hybrids
Fred Giampietro Folk Art, Antiques and Contemporary Art
315 Peck St., New Haven, (203) 777-7760
Willard Lustenader: Areas of Refuge
Through July 1, 2011.
The first word that comes to mind as I contemplate Willard Lustenader's paintings in the Areas of Refuge show is "pure." There is an understanding of essence—whether it's line, shape, color or light—that is refreshing. The exhibit showcases a series of work based on Lustenader's study of still life geometric forms. Primarily a show of paintings, the exhibit also includes several drawings and a few sculptural works derived from the same themes.
Lustenader is a realist painter and this set of works began with paintings of paper cut-out still lifes. While continuing with the cut-outs, which call to mind simplified pitched-roof building forms, Lustenader has more recently begun painting bent wire sculptures. The bent wires resemble the definitional contour lines of the paper cut-outs. But where the cut-out paintings offer the illusion of naturalistic depth, the wire paintings suggested a flattened visual field.
Several things stand out about Lustenader's paintings. They are notable for the strength of his technique. His colors are luminous. I would say there is an intuitive understanding of the nature of light and shadow but more likely that is a hard-won skill. While these works all deal with similar subject matter, Lustenader's keen compositional sense imbues each with a strong individual identity.
Lustenader, when asked, is clear. He is painting what he sees. Yet—because he is painting geometric forms rather than, say, a bowl of pears—the paintings seem more like abstract than representational works. This is most pronounced with the "Areas of Refuge" series—specifically the bent wire paintings, as distinct from the show of the same name—where the harder linear forms of the wires are juxtaposed with the soft background traversed by translucent shadows. (Lustenader sets up his wire still lifes on a table in his studio. Working in layers over a period of time, he paints the twisted forms and the soft shadows from the crossbars of his studio windows.)
But this blurring of the line between abstraction and presentation is true of the cut-out paintings also. While Lustenader is painting from life—so to speak—the formalist nature of his shapes alludes to a Modernist tradition most associated with geometric abstraction.
For me, the standout paintings in the show are "Cut-outs, Warm and Cool" (upper image) and "Areas of Refuge #6" (lower image). The former is a tour de force of bold colors and authoritative shapes that situates the viewer within a funhouse mirror architecture. The latter painting has a far more subdued feel. Lustenader's twisted blue line forms are (seemingly) suspended over an evocative wash of diagonal shadows. Where the bright colors and cartoon-like shapes in "Cut-outs, Warm and Cool" model a playful sensibility, the muted palette and envelopment by shadows of "Areas of Refuge #6" suggests a late afternoon melancholy.
So while the first word that came to mind was "pure," there is in fact a great deal of hybridity to Lusenader's approach. Realism flirts with abstraction and formalism intermingles with feeling.
Labels: Fred Giampietro Folk Art, painting, Willard Lustenader
posted by Hank Hoffman at 2:21 PM
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MANIFEST GALLERY, "Monochrome"
Monochrome Sept. 29 - Oct.23 2009
Manifest Creative Research Gallery and Drawing Center
2727 Woodburn Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45206
Bachelier Cardonsky Gallery
Three artist exhibition.
Opening: Sat. May 23 reception 5-7pm
50th International Awards Exhibition
SAN DIEGO ART INSTITUTE
March 20 - May 10, 2009
W. Lustenader "Cut-outs, 3 Green, 36 x 42 oil 2008 will be included.
Review: Inviting Abstraction John Slade Ely House, New Haven, CT Feb. 2009
Monday, February 09, 2009
Light, paint and dreams at Ely House
John Slade Ely House Center for Contemporary Art
51 Trumbull Street, New Haven, (203) 624-8055
Through March 1, 2009.
There is a fine painting show at The John Slade Ely House. Inviting Abstraction features the work of Willard Lustenader, Megan Craig and K. Levni Sinanoglu. It isn't a show of abstract paintings in the usual sense, although Megan Craig's work comes close. These are works that flirt with abstraction in various ways despite having one foot planted strongly in different representational traditions.
The ostensible subjects of Willard Lustenader's oil paintings are still lifes of paper cutouts on tabletops. For the most part, the pieces of paper are folded in half with each half coming to a peak like the roof of a house. There is the sense of models of little communities created by Monopoly pieces. But the real subject of Lustenader's paintings, the star—at least to my eyes—is light. In works like "Cut-outs with 1 Red and 2 Yellow," "White Cut-outs, 1 Gray" and the luminous "Cut-outs, 3 White," Lustenader immerses himself in not only the way the geometric shapes cast a multiplicity of shadows on the reflective surface. It's like he wields a prism in his paintbrush, channeling the waves to the linen surface. It is the substance of light made visible while remaining true to its quality as light. Both light and lightness.
Megan Craig's subject would appear to be blunt abstraction. Her paintings are inspired by household objects—a chair, for example—but aren't in any way representational. (Craig has previously built up a fine body of work painting cityscapes.) But as with Lustenader, the real subject is something else again: the kinetic pleasure of applying paint to surface.
There could hardly be a stronger contrast than that between Craig's approach and that of Lustenader. Where Lustenader works with the precise delineation of a trained classicist, Craig covers her panels or canvas with broad brush strokes of boldly stated color. In Lustenader's paintings, colors bleed imperceptibly into other colors based on observed principles of physics. Not so with Craig's paintings. Shape abuts shape. "Jubilee" is made up of four panels abutting each other. Each briskly applied brush stroke is 2—3 inches wide. You can see the physical energy expended in the act of painting. The paint coming off the bristles interacts with the underlying color layers to generate lines of force.
K. Levni Sinanoglu's paintings document a private metaphysical universe. Surrealism is certainly a touchstone. There is the stuff of dreams: birds in flight, strange elongated trees, ghostly figures and inscrutable architecture. Perspective is skewed, imagery is layered on imagery in the way one archaeological site may rest on top of another. Although dreamlike, there is a sense of order, suggested by the delicate use of gridwork in a way that references architectural drawings.
Labels: John Slade Ely House, K. Levni Sinanoglu, Megan Craig, painting, Willard Lustenader
posted by Hank Hoffman at 3:04 PM | 1 comments
Review, John Slade Ely House Feb. 09
INVITING ABSTRACTION: Current Exhibition
John Slade Ely House
center for contemporary art
51 Trumbull Street
New Haven, Ct 06510
January 25- March 1, 2009.
Participating Artists: Megan Craig, Willard Lustenader, and K. Levni Sinanoglu
Public Reception: Saturday, January 31, from 5-8pm.
Saturday & Sunday, 2-5pm
Wednesday - Friday, 11am-4pm
Free and Open to the Public