Water, water everywhere

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For a nice lesson in artistic intent, two artists now on exhibit, one at Gallery Joe and one at Pentimenti practically shock with their differences, despite their similarities (top image and left below by Laura Bell).
I’m thinking here of the Laura Bell paintings in her show “Scintilla” at Pentimenti and the Cheol yu Kim work, which Roberta told you about here, in the group watercolor show at Gallery Joe.

Kim’s diaphanous monochrome floating world of googly-eyed jellyfish that look like hot-air balloons and its armies of sea-polyp extra-terrestrials, all based on template shapes and curves, suggest a burgeoning of life-forms, a slightly weird and wonderful world of survival and procreation. It’s sexy in its joyous fantasy forms that create an underwater fairyland (right, a detail from one of Kim’s aqueaous fantasies).

Bell’s paintings use some of the same strategies. There’s a sense of the spirograph in the jellyfish forms, but here opulence and splendor steal the show and reveal the intent. It’s not about survival at all.

The background pulsates with peaceful waves of intensified color. The flower-jellyfish look for all the world like they belong in the world of Asian silk brocades and prints, not to mention wallpaper versions of those patterns. Bubbles and tentacles branch from the flowers, bathed in filtered light, looking for all the world like they could take a break from their beauty sleep and strangle anything that comes near (image, by Bell).

The work is about decoration and style as much as it is about the eerie world it is describing or creating. The shapes of the longer, scroll-like lengths of some of the paintings only intensify the Asian references

Both artists have a touch of Asian comic sources in their creations, but those sources are transformed.

While I’m on the subject of Pentimenti, I also want to mention Kathryn Frund’s exhibit, which seems to include some of the work I had enjoyed at the Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art in the spring. I’ll just refer you to my post. Without the Jewish context, the work takes on more of an environmental cast, but it still gives the sense of memories, lives and worlds lost (image, “Sacred Narrative” taken at the PMJA show).

I don’t mean to slight the other artists at Gallery Joe, either. Roberta’s list of faves works for me.

While I was in there, gallery owner Becky Kerlin started talking about her forthcoming participation in Aqua Art Miami. She’s bringing down lots of new work, including three new Rob Matthews pieces, one of which is featured in the catalog, now available from the site (pick the larger size download, Matthews advises). Go to the website, check it out, and see if you recognize his model from around the Philadelphia art scene. The piece is a knock-out.

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