Alice Denison: MetaFlor
Ed Stitt: Fenway and Beyond
February 6 – 28 at Gallery NAGA
Alice Denison continues her exploration of flowers by merging still life with pattern painting. Each painting depicts a large pitcher or urn floating in the center covered by densely layered flora and filigree. In the past, the main characters were always the flowers. In this new body of work, the vessel is the focus with the flowers in the supporting roles.
The title of the show, MetaFlor, is a play on the traditional and contemporary uses of meta as well as a play on metaphor. The vessel becomes a presence in the paintings in a symbolic sense. It suddenly goes from being a pitcher or urn to a representation of an object with other meanings or associations. The viewer is left wondering what it all means. Why this vessel? What are we to make of a room full of paintings based on this one object?
Each painting is focused on a particular color story that’s been predetermined by Denison. In a statement for the exhibition, Denison writes,
Each piece begins with a grid, a drawing and a raised pattern in stenciled acrylic paste. Color is washed on in acrylic. From there, I work in free form, doodling in patterns in thin oil paint with tiny brushes. Once I’ve covered the surface, I start again, recoating the first layer here, layering on another pattern there, until there is play between the form of the pitcher and the ground. Adjustments continue; each of the large pieces comes together bit by bit over months. Some works are flatter and lacier and some have more form and space.
Working this way, I’ve made a subject of the relationship between object and ground. The submerging and emerging pitcher is a metaphor for our own place, both apart from and a part of the world.
Influences on the work include patterned wallpaper, fabric and ceramics, Chinese Song dynasty paintings, Dutch 17th and French 18th century still life painting, and the pattern painters of the 1970s.
Denison is the 2013 recipient of the Berkshire Taconic Artist Resource Trust Award.
Ed Stitt uses light and color to transform commonplace urban environments. Stitt paints alleys and buildings near his studio, in Boston’s Fenway Studios building. The paintings glory in a celebration of architectural detail and the overlapping decline and renewal of city surfaces.
In addition to his on-site painting of urban landscapes, Stitt also works in the countryside, where towering trees and open fields make for compositions quite unlike his tight city spaces. In these paintings we see the painter Stitt might be if he weren’t so in love with Boston’s byways.
In a statement for the exhibition, Stitt writes,
With this most recent group of paintings I’m continuing to find beauty worth painting in my urban environment. Most of these paintings (1091 Boylston and 54 The Fenway) I’ve noticed long ago in my ambulations around the city during the everyday life of grocery shopping, hardware store excursions, etc. Eventually I see or find some archetypical view of this area and proceed to attempt to depict it with paint. During this round I kept noticing how nature breaks through, like how grass works its way through a grey concrete sidewalk. Trees, and trees in season, continue to show forth their beauty in parks and green areas within the urban environment… surprising rural and beautiful in their seasonal glory.
A number of these paintings began as a single canvas, but then as things grew and presented themselves I added other canvases on to present a larger view of the area (notably the two Fenway diptychs).
Ed Stitt’s work is included in an exhibition, Boston University Faculty Exhibition, currently on view at 808 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston.