Speed and light

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Nightlife, night highways, neon, fluorescents, quick transport, film, video–these are hallmarks of the way we live today. A hundred years ago, we were in a different world–no cars or planes, yellowing gaslights and darkness at night, the stars visible, and time to contemplate and wonder (top, “I Can CU 2,” oil, photograph, 15 x 57.5 inches).
Anthony DeMelas, whose paintings are in the main gallery at Pentimenti, makes art of the speed, the artificial light, the photography and film, even the smudgy quality of the printing process. A look at a DeMelas painting is like a tour through a fast-moving story.

DeMelas, who is local, has a couple of recent feathers in his cap, said Pentimenti’s Christine Pfister. He’s one of the artists in this year’s New American Paintings and he created a commission for the Grammy Awards.

DeMelas, whose work includes wax and oil on paper as well as acrylic, uses the sculptural qualities of the media to create texture and visual landscape, sometimes. He also works on top of photographs some of the time (left, “Evolution,” oil, photograph, 15 x 39 inches).

Sometimes, the scraped or dragged medium suggests an image taken from a fast-moving car–as well as the motion of the artist’s hand, bringing back content to David Reed’s reductive brush strokes. Often, there’s a sense of multiple frames or spaces squeezed together to create a cinematic rush of shuffled memories.

DeMelas makes good use of the colors of artifical light and their contrast to darkened spaces.

These were the pieces that interested me most.

He also makes work with sexy figures and flowers, crazed textures, rhythmic patterns. These also had a sense of movement through a tale and time. But to me, these felt more worked over and interior–like a formal garden–and less about looking at the world around us.
Also showing at Pentimenti are Nancy Blum sculptures and drawing, Isabel Bigelow monoprints and Kiki Gaffney drawings on mylar (right, Blum’s ceramic flowers, variable dimensions).

Blum, who is a New York artist, is showing ceramic flowers (right), from a suite of work commissioned for an installation at the Seattle Airport. These flowers, which you may have seen before at Pentimenti, are stylized with a ’50s decorative affect that at once bristles and suggests a factory-made process. In fact, however, each flower is unique.
Bigelow is a painter, whose work is carried by galleries in New York (Sear-Peyton) and Tokyo. She is showing Asian-influenced reductive monoprints of forms suggested by nature (left, “Floating World,” monoprint, 1/1, 25 x 17.5 inches).
And Gaffney’s oil rectangles and pencil botanical drawings on mylar evoke domestic spaces and concerns and life amid the layers of the past (right, “Botanical II,” oil, pencil on mylar, 20 x 14.5 inches).

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