Perception of Place: Pastels by Mallory Lake

Pucker Gallery
Aug 3, 2016 6:57PM

Mallory Lake is a master of pastel. Her surface textures range from the dry, velvety softness we usually associate with the medium to an almost painterly pooling of color. The golden glow of light bathing Italian villas and vistas is the central concern of the evocative new work in this exhibit.    

Capturing the interplay of light and shadow is her great gift as an artist. In the manner of the old masters, Lake layers her materials conjuring light from darkness.

Possessing an exceptional ability to discern fleeting atmospheric effects, she gives these effects presence in a two-dimensional world. Her images are palpably about place, and yet they transcend mere description. Lake balances the sensuous qualities of color and light with a relatively stark geometry of form, giving free reign to complex investigations of perception and of place.

Lake’s works are rich in evocative mystery despite the straightforward character of the depiction. These scenes are eerily devoid of people. Yet human handiwork—manicured lawns and topiary trees, imposing gateways and sculptures, stucco walls and tile rooftops—is always present. This creates a dialogue between what is seen and what is implied, or felt, emotionally and physically. We are compelled to puzzle over their meaning. Why is this magnificent garden unused on such a beautiful day? Who lives here? Where did they go?

In the last decade, Mallory Lake has proven there is room for innovation and personal expression in the most traditional of genres. Building each work from the fundamental tools of the artist—superb draftsmanship and a full understanding of color, line, and texture—she breathes life and emotion into her landscapes by bathing her enigmatic scenes in palpably beautiful light. This dichotomy keeps the work on edge and makes for an exciting viewing experience.


Mara Williams, Chief Curator

Brattleboro Museum & Art Center

Pucker Gallery