Pastel bricks and flowers galore in Pentimenti’s new space

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Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia’s premier spot for sensuous art with conceptual underpinnings, recently moved its operation around the corner to a glorious, 1,600 sq. ft. space on Second St. (same block as Nexus).

I stopped in on Saturday afternoon and the sun was streaming in the front windows casting a warm glow on the pine floors and providing a welcoming atmosphere. Not that you needed it, because Spring was in the air and on the walls.

Sara Eichner’s small pastel paintings broadcast the colors of Spring and Nancy Blum’s ceramic flowers hit you with thoughts of nature unchained after a winter sleep.

Eichner’s glossy, almost-sculpted oil on panel paintings present architectural motifs (bricks, wood floors) and other patterns that suggest other kinds of building blocks (hexagons).

Shown with a bees-eye view, Eichner’s candy-colored patterns are in control, their patterns adhering rigidly to their grids. But the way Eichner has presented them–juicy to the point of ickiness, and with weird, abruptly truncated slices — it’s all a little bit off. This is not really architecture we’re talking about here but building of a different kind. Staring at the works you could imagine their patterns (especially the wood grain) transporting you into a psychedelic reverie.

I thought perhaps Eichner was referring to photography with her skewed diagonal motifs. I’ve taken enough bad photographs to recognize those weird, off-square croppings.

Eichner, a New York artist, showed last year at PPOW. This is her second solo exhibit at Pentimenti.

Blum’s flowers — ceramic, drawn and painted — are also on this side of manic — decorative but imbued with a kind of darkness, like Victorian exotica. Blum’s work reminded me of Rain Harris’s extravagent ceramic outpourings, seen recently at the Clay Studio.

Blum, by the way, is a New York artist who shows at Thatcher Projects. Gallerist Christine Pfister gave me a card with images of Blum’s new 2004 percent for art commission at the Seattle/Tacoma International Airport. One more reason to go in case you need one.

If pattern, repetition and excess are the big three here, a sense of play is fourth, with art that invites you to take it seriously but also to keep a light touch about you.

Lest you think Pentimenti has gone New York on us, let me assure you that this show was in the works long before Pentimenti scheduled its move. Next show is Philadelphia artists, says Pfister.

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