Monday, January 18, 2016

Adventures at the Carroll Gallery

For the new year, the Carroll Gallery on the Uptown Tulane campus features one of its own, Aaron Collier, Assistant Professor at the University. Sharing his recent adventures in painting, he is presenting twenty-one of his most recent works. The three rooms of the gallery are filled with paintings, collages and decoys in a judicious display presented by the artist himself for the opening of Something There.
Doom exudes from the large primal landscapes lining up the gallery's main room. Composed while Collier was reading the Book of Job from the Old Testament, the desolate scenery, with earthy tones and blurry shapes, evoke a threatening world in which the undefined becomes the threat itself. Revisitation, created last Summer for the 10th anniversary of the Katrina disaster, includes a wood piece retrieved from a ravaged house with foam still attached to it, like a parasite. Collier's preferred prop for his paintings is an owl, the symbol of wisdom, but also of death. In A Certain Uncertainty, the quiet bird stands guard next to the painting, serene and menacing, adding an ambiguous feeling. The compositions have no focal point and are defined by blurry lines and dark colors. The superimposition of browns and grays creates an effect of depth and subtle "lightning" in some areas of the works, keeping the viewers wandering in the landscapes. The contrast is striking when walking in the two satellite galleries. The pieces of smaller sizes radiate energy, like a promise of happiness. The vibrant saturated colors invade the space, screaming at the viewer their message of hope. Even the three owls perched on a ledge take an harmless turn, disguised in candy colors. However, the artist's message stays focused on doom as we come back to the first room before exiting the exhibition.
In his presentation, Collier refers to Gerhard Richter, Zubarán, John Singer Sargent and describes the conception of his works as an adventure starting with the juxtaposition of photographs of scenes of disasters and minutely decorated interiors. From then on, the images blur, dissolve and reemerge on the canvas, leaving "colors and compositions flow and impose themselves". Chaos versus harmony, tragedy versus happiness, the painter translates his vision of life with colors, constantly shifting between extremes.
To quote the artist: " Paint is the perfect medium for picturing paradox: painting itself is an in-between act, a simultaneous doing and undoing."

photographs by the author

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this thoughtful, considered review!!