Beauty Reigns: A Baroque Sensibility in Recent Painting

Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries

Beauty Reigns celebrates the exoticism, exuberance and optimism found in the work of thirteen abstract painters working in studios across the United States. The exhibition is designed to give viewers visual pleasure, with the artists each offering different ideas about beauty.

Included in Beauty Reigns are artists whose experiences in other countries inform their work. Brazilian Beatriz Milhazes uses the sun, pearls, roses and spheres to create “a big fantasy-filled world picture.” Kamrooz Aram, born in Iran, draws inspiration from flags and Persian rug patterns. South Korea native Jiha Moon fuses her Eastern origins and Western life in artworks that meld figuration and abstraction. Susan Chrysler White, whose dense compositions allude to the “fracturing and rebuilding of connections,” was fascinated by Antonio Gaudi’s architecture as a child in Spain. The vigorous brushwork used by Nancy Lorenz, who lived in Tokyo as a teenager, references Japanese aestheticism and abstract expressionism.

A number of the artworks on view are assembled from an elaborate array of materials. Jose Alvarez (D.O.P.A.) adorns ultrachrome prints with oil, enamel, ink, organdy, feathers, quills and crystals. Fausto Fernandez’s dense collages incorporate architectural plans, maps, acrylic, oil pastel and spray paint toward creating “metaphors for human interaction.”

Layering of surface imagery is another approach shared by artists in Beauty Reigns. Rex Ray assembles painted and printed papers into intricate collages that “interweave fanciful forms.” Ryan McGinness overlays stylized human figures, abstract motifs, logos and symbols to create dizzying patterns and a sense of deep space.

Other artists construct compositions using acrylic or oil paint to very different effect. Striped organic and geometric forms cover Charles Burwell’s canvases, and the shapes that float across Annette Davidek’s paintings are derived from flowers, coral, branches, chromosomes, blood vessels and algae. Interior design and art history inspire Roslyn Schwartz’s juxtapositions of representational and abstract images with decorative patterns.  Paul Henry Ramirez’s elegant installations extend the impact of his playful designs.

Beauty Reigns: A Baroque Sensibility in Recent Painting is organized by the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio Texas. The Semmes Foundation, Inc. is generously providing lead sponsorship. Lead sponsorship for its presentation in Akron is provided by the Lehner Family Foundation with additional funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.