Michael Kate puts the abstract on hold this month for a themed show of figurative painting. Curator and artist Brad Nack may have been slightly winking when he said he chose the theme because he wanted to give himself a challenge (he’s in the show with several paintings). But hey, whatever gets the creative juices flowing.
This is a show with ten artists tackling the human figure in various ways, from sci-fi pulp art to the roughest of class sketches. More than any previous show — I believe, anyway — this is meant to be taken as a journey in order, starting at the doors and moving counter-clockwise around MichaelKate. (But if you just want to move right to the back where those comfy recliners are, that’s fine too.)
Several months ago, Brad Nack brought four abstract artists to MichaelKate Interiors, each dealing in their own way with topography. After that, another quartet dealt with flight and birds. But this month’s exhibition, “Bright Lines and the Void” (through June 30), complicates matters further with a disparate selection of paintings from four vastly different artists. Thomas Van Stein’s nocturnal landscapes; John Carlander’s bold abstracts; Hilary Baker’s enigmatic yet representational work; and Norman Lundin’s witty realism — this is a conversation between four distinct personalities, and like a great dinner party, it’s worth sitting in and checking out what comes up.
Mr. Lundin comes from the grey climes of Seattle and you can see it in his paintings, as if somebody had told Edward Hopper to tone down the color and get the people out of the room. These are interiors and exteriors (sometimes both, seen through windows) honoring still moments on endless overcast and wet days. I say witty, because check out “Sun Break, Studio” which only shows its sun through a thin strip of light that defines the shadows on the window sill. The rest, from our perspective, is yet another gloomy, almost smoky day, looking out across the landscape in search of a horizon. These are the funereal rooms of Tarkovsky and Bergman, where time has slowed down, crawled, and given up. On the other hand, the entropy is so finely rendered that the paintings energize in a perverse way.