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“Drawing on Nature,” as the name suggests, is an exhibition of drawings taking nature as theme. That said, the term “drawing” is loosely applied.
The largest piece in the show — and a bit of a standout by reason of size alone — is “Cluster” by Fritz Dietel. This somber work is really sculptural, albeit with key pieces fabricated out of paper; the tree shape appears to be blasted, dead.
Other works in the show are more old school, celebrating the fecundity of the world. The large format drawings of Erika Osborne and Csilla Sadloch present the complexity of living matter and, in Sadloch’s case, render it with astonishing complexity. “Island Root” is a tangle of growth in which every shoot is defined.
The two pieces by Anda Dubinskis interested me in a different way. Her charcoal sketch “Peony” very much reminded me of the old decorated chinaware I would see at my aunts’ homes on holidays. That’s not meant as a dig; it’s very affecting work. Her other piece, “Tumult,” seems a bit more indebted to Asian art. It reminded me of sunlight striking the surface of a roiling sea, but it’s all designed to produce a single harmonious effect — if “Tumult” can be said to be harmonious.
The remaining works in the show loosen the ties to purely representational art. Dean Dass’s studies of clouds appear to be purely line studies, so I suppose it can be argued that they represent pure draftsmanship, but they didn’t much remind me of clouds. Sarah Van Keuren, working in pencil and cyanotype, produces gray-and-white studies of figures in landscapes that vaguely resemble Belgian lace, while Lisa Kippen’s mixed-media pieces probably are the closest of anything in the show to being purely abstracts.
This is a worthwhile show on two levels. It reminds us that drawing is the bedrock of all art and that drawing exists on many levels. At first glance, Kippen’s mixed-media pieces don’t seem to have a lot in common with Sadloch’s large, intricate graphite drawings, but they find their commonality in their both being the first fruits of the artist’s observations.
(Above right: "Tumult," by Anda Dubinskis; left, "Untitled" by Lisa Kippen)
What, When, Where
“Drawing on Nature” will be on display through March 1st at Schmidt/Dean Gallery, 1719 Chestnut Street, 4th Floor, Philadelphia. 215-569-9433. www.schmidtdean.com.
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