In Disparate Practices, Two Artists Channel Nature and Movement

The human body in motion; a sweeping band of clouds cutting across a landscape—two wildly different subjects, but each with its own energetic beauty. Is it any wonder artists have been drawn to these themes for centuries? Now, a new show at Boston’s DTR Modern Galleries puts together works by two contemporary artists—one a photographer and painter, the other a sculptor—who each delight in color, texture, and expression while reinventing familiar ways of making art. 

German sculptor Rainer Lagemann creates metal sculptures that capture the human body in frozen moments of kinetic energy. Using hollow squares of metal to create his compositions, Lagemann makes works that are a blend of strength and fragility, mirroring the human condition itself. In the gallery, the sculptures’ latticework shapes come alive as light casts shadows through their open surfaces. 

Like Lagemann, Stev’nn Hall works with familiar material, albeit in an unconventional manner. His latest series of landscapes was begun in 2008, when both of his parents were diagnosed with cancer. Returning to his rural Canadian hometown—where he grew up, states the gallery, “with a 35mm camera in one hand and a paintbrush in the other”—Hall found himself looking at the landscape anew, appreciating the place he had once tried to escape for the city.  

  • Stev’nn Hall in his studio. Courtesy DTR Modern Galleries and the artist.

    Stev’nn Hall in his studio. Courtesy DTR Modern Galleries and the artist.

To create these works, Hall begins by taking photographs, combining upwards of 40 digital images per piece into a single, comprehensive panoramic view anchored by a definitive horizon line. Once the image is created in the computer, he prints it and mounts it on birch panel. That’s when the piece really begins to come alive: Hall embellishes the image, painting, scratching, and applying stains, oil paint, pastel, and ink. The result is a layered and textured surface that calls to mind the painterly landscapes of Monet and the impressionists, while blurring the lines between photography and painting. By exploring the “fragile boundary between boyhood and imagined adulthood” through landscape, the works prove that it is, in fact, possible to return home again.   

Heather Corcoran

Stev’nn Hall & Rainer Lagemann” is on view at DTR Modern Galleries, Boston, Mar. 13–Apr. 10, 2015.

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Portrait of Stev’nn Hall courtesy DTR Modern Galleries and the artist.