D. Eric Bookhardt on new paintings by Norah Lovell and Peter Barnitz
Norah Lovell's colorfully intricate compositions can be seductive yet elusive. Like fragments of dreams that linger upon waking, they draw us in with elements of beauty, familiarity and intrigue while defying easy interpretation. Rendered in pencil and gouache, these small (12 inches by 16 inches) but very precise compositions hint at the shadowy baroque elegance of Boccaccio's Decameron tales, or the old Venetian carnivals where the beautiful and the sinister, darkness and light, flickered kaleidoscopically. Untwinned Horn: Capillus (pictured) is a dreamy pastiche of hearts and candelabra where fairy tale princesses share space with rollicking cats, florid wallpaper and ghostly shadows in an imagistic vortex that draws you in then makes you wonder where you are and how you got there. Similarly, Master of Hounds reads like a graphic acid flashback to a realm of historical fiction reminiscent of Emily Bronte. Here Lovell takes us on an elegantly executed magical mystery tour where high culture and street carnivals find common ground in the far recesses of the imagination.
Peter Barnitz's paintings at Ten Gallery are minimal yet busy. His precisely ordered yet meandering compositions of triangular brush strokes are reminiscent of geodesic dome geometry, only instead of occupying three dimensions, Barnitz creates a sense of space with lighter or darker colors and tones. Comprised of differing shades of charcoal, Reconciliation reads like a very large and busy start chart, yet the effect is calmly contemplative. Similarly, Moment of Change, a deep crimson, charcoal and pale gray maze, suggests a kind of cryptic code, perhaps some occult secret of the universe rendered as a schematic. A former Loyola basketball team captain-turned-serious artist, Barnitz distills the meditative, Zen-like side of sports psychology into intricate canvases that inspire visual reveries in the viewer. Like Lovell, he is a recipient of a Joan Mitchell Center artist residency, suggesting the center has become a serious art incubator.