Veiled meanings

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I stopped in at the University City Arts League a few minutes ago to check out Michelle Marcuse’s show of encaustic paintings, “Hive and Hue.”

The imagery was a mix of shapes that suggested landscapes and architectural interiors and exteriors delivered in a flattened out, up-against-the-canvas pattern, any suggestions of spatial depth removed except through the layering of the waxy colors. For the most part, the colors were pale and sun-bleached.

The piece with the strongest composition was “Universe” (top right), which almost suggested a human stand-in figure, the ground below, the sky above and scary stuff. A suggestion of personal content also came through in “Unfinished World” (left), with its dinner plate circles, suggestion of a window, some floaty biota shapes.

Marcuse, who has a BFA in painting from Tyler, was born in South Africa, but even with gallery information that mentioned something about apartheid and black and white, I came away from the show not knowing what Marcuse cared about, other than wax and color.

The layering, veiling and architectural blocks reminds me of work by Catherine Gontarek that showed at the Arts League (and got a nice review in the Inky from Ed Sozansky) in January, but Gontarek allows some personal darkness, inner space and serendipity to shine through her mix of swatches of fabric and blocks of paint (right, Gontarek’s “Night Behind the Corner”).

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