Paul Balmer is one of the gallery’s most cosmopolitan artists, as can be seen in his affection for cities as a subject. Balmer is similarly cosmopolitan in his biography, having lived, studied, painted, and taught across the world, between his native South Africa, Australia, Switzerland, Paris, Boston, and New York. “There’s a stability and tranquility that comes out of the Australian experience,” Balmer has said. “Combining that with the New York context creates something brand new.” In Dark Night (2015), he depicts a cityscape after nightfall, its buildings and river mingling to create an atmosphere alive with possibility and emotion, the sort of feelings that New York has long evoked. The skyscrapers, with their articulated lines and weighty forms, appear like characters—each with their own psychological layers and relationships to one another.
One can find close analogues to Balmer’s work in the show’s other manifold images, even those totally distinct from his urban scenes. David L. Hutchinson’s hard-edge abstraction Poem for JG “A” Liberty, Black Sum, Pristine, First, Provoked (2013-2014)—which features swaths of greens, blues, reds, and browns in horizontal and vertical bands—uses a similar play of structure and line. Ashley Andrews’s gestural Abstract Expressionist paintings, such as Yellow Abstract (2015), and Claudia Mengel’s Giuseppe’s Garden (2015), deploy color expansively, remaining abstract while suggesting larger scenes and emotional states.
Three of the artists play with the conventions of portrait painting, such as Geoffrey Stein’s BB Grid (2010), which uses a style of photorealism suited for the digital age. In this portrait he depicts his subject, a close-up of a young woman, with part of the image reduced to blocks of flesh color resembling pixilation. Whit Conrad’s Man with a Big Nose (After Soutine) (2015) pays homage to Chaim Soutine, one of the early 20th century’s greatest Expressionists. The painting also appears to have references to Francis Bacon in its construction of space and the man’s constricting posture. Altogether different, Betsy Podlach’s Lady Going to Rehearsal (2015) is reserved and self-assured.
In addition to the work of 13 of Lionheart’s painters, “Group Summer Exhibition” showcases sculptures by Donald Bracken. Each artist conveys a unique way of seeing with their medium, be it in portraits, cityscapes, or abstractions—all done with proficiency and vivid color.
“Group Summer Show” is on view at Lionheart Gallery, Pound Ridge, NY, Jul. 5–Sep. 27, 2015.