Far afield

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I didn’t particularly want to drive out to Chestnut Hill to look at the work hanging at JMS Gallery, but the image on the postcard and the knowledge that Daniel Heyman had a number of pieces in the show there sold me enough to get me going (top, “Warren” by Heyman).

The Heymans (are we on a Daniel Heyman kick here or what?) not only did not disappoint. They pleased enormously. And some work by Vladan Gradistanac also piqued my interest.

Heyman made a series of portraits, silhouetted figures printed from linoleum blocks on patterned Japanese papers. The papers were not necessarily modest and subdued.  The paper behind “Shane” was covered with red, pink, green and blue mountains (“Shane” left).  An intense yellow plaid framed “Jonathan,” (below, right) which is printed on stripes. In contrast to all this busy pattern, the inky figures or heads and shoulders were flat, defined by the cut of a jaw, a few lines for features, some sparely chosen details (I mean, who would cut into the linoleum block any more than necessary?).

The specificity of these portraits made with such economy was a reminder of how we are so not alike. The layers of pattern peeked through boldly where the cuts remained uninked, creating space or backdrop. They also seeped up through the ink itself, adding texture to the inky areas.  In Heyman’s statement he writes that the layers allude to the layers of his subject’s personality.

Lately, we’ve seen a bunch of other Daniel Heyman prints–at Moore College’s Levy Gallery, in the “Philadelphia Selections Five” (see Roberta’s post), and at the “Several Steps Removed” show of prints and printmaking at Fleisher, (see my post). Heyman, who’s has a Fleisher Challenge show coming up in February, recently wrote a post for us about Julie York.

(Prints are not his only medium, and there’s a charming painting of his downstairs at the gallery–“Terrace in the 6th,” showing a figure having dinner on a terrace in Paris.)

Of Vladan Gradistanac’s work, what I took most seriously were some portraits of elderly women. Unlike his more Byzantine icon-like portraits, which seemed rather generic, these portrayed specific people.

 

The surprise here was both the subject matter–elderly ladies are not a popular subject for portraiture, unless they have a million bucks, in which case they are draped in jewels and flattery–and the forthright image-making.

I especially liked “Face #1” (left above) but there was a woman with pink eyes (right) who also caught my attention.  The Yugoslavia-born Gradistanac has something a little old-fashioned in his work–maybe his colors, his paint handling, that seemed to come out of the ’50s.

The artist on the postcard, Eleanor Day, makes colorful paintings of nude look-alike goddesses of nature in primitive sylvan scenes. The colors were super, but the subject matter was expected. The postcard image, “The Second Queen,” achieved a pleasing quirkiness (left).

Others showing at JMS included Pegalina and Ruslan Khais.

JMS Gallery is at 8236 Germantown Ave. in Chestnut Hill,  (215) 248-4649.

 

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