Love, Luck, or Lust: A Group Show Tackles Red’s Shades of Meaning

The versatility of the color red is perhaps seen best in works of art. Its hues evoke an array of significance, depending on the culture through which it is represented or understood; common associations with red span love, luck, courage, power, anger, mourning, or a political party. Turner Carroll Gallery’s latest show, “Red,” gathers works by various artists who utilize red in differing manners, ultimately presenting a many perspectives and uses of the color and its rich significance.

Artist Rex Ray’s abstract and graphically inclined paintings each feature several shades of red and pink; his Untitled # 4308 (2014) depicts a number of flat oval shapes, one half of the painting they are presenting horizontally, the other vertically. To the viewer, these two columns of lozenge-like forms may conjure blood vessels or cells, expressing the vitality of living beings. Another artist, Greg Murr, recreates strands of pearls against a red background in his painting, Pearl Study No. 16 (Torsade) (2012). Murr has painted a number of a cluster of the precious beads, wound together, almost like a strand of DNA, so that they transcend identification as a beautiful piece of jewelry, and achieve a spirited, organic quality. Hung Liu also introduces the string of pearls, but this time they hang around the neck of a beautiful woman dressed in red in her painting, Narcissus IV, (2006). While referring to the Greek myth noted in the work’s title, Liu is carefully intertwining modern motifs from China with ancient ideas from from both Chinese culture and abroad. Other artists, like Shawn Smith, playfully show how red is used both in biology and digitally, as with his sculpture Sternotomis Bohemani Bohemani. Though the red pigment of the beetle’s wings might send out a warning to potential predators in nature, through a pixelated computer filter each individual red hue on the wings alludes to the amount of information necessary to depict a living being.

Each of the artists in “Red” adds another definition, or multiple simultaneous definitions, to describe their own impassioned commentary to the primary hue.

Haniya Rae

Red” is on view at Turner Carroll Gallery, Santa Fe, Dec. 8, 2014–Jan. 16, 2015.

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