In Tangible Lines at The Lionheart Gallery,Barbara Owen Pushes Boundaries of Drawing

The Lionheart Gallery
Apr 1, 2017 3:58PM

by Douglas P. Clement

The Swiss-born German artist Paul Klee once said, “A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.”

In her new exhibit, Tangible Lines, running through April 30 at The Lionheart Gallery in Pound Ridge, N.Y., Barbara Owen creates drawings that don’t just go for a walk—they dance in three dimensions and even literally leap off the wall in some cases.

Left to Right: Calligraphy, Twist and Cascade of Clouds, Palm, Two Ideas, by Barbara Owen

Owen, who divides her time between Pawtucket, R.I., and Brooklyn, N.Y., creates drawings in three dimensions.

Instead of drawing on paper, the artist uses cut up, hand-painted paper as the line itself. She’s drawing with an X-ACTO knife, creating lines with snaking physicality and presenting compositions of abstractly intermingled lines as forms that possess sculptural qualities.

Left to Right: Only, Black Lines Blue Reflection, Letter of Intent, by Barbara Owen

The resulting colorful, intricate and sometimes bold, sometimes delicate compositions combine a sense of almost primal beauty with more cerebral explorations of color relationships, depth, superposition and the boundaries between representation and abstraction.

Owen considers these works drawings in space, and the three-dimensionality suggests a certain warping of time, or maybe it’s more that the drawings feel like the moment when an intense or important mood was frozen in time.

Tangible Lines features a series of framed drawings, displayed alongside exceptional wall-mounted installations.

Left to Right: Miss Havisham, Rosy Pink Puffs, Puff of Red, by Barbara Owen

The installation piece that quietly steals the show is a flowing study in white-upon-white entitled Miss Havisham, in reference to the spectral spinster in Dickens’ novel “Great Expectations.” A billowing torso of a work, it possesses serene beauty even as the title inspires subtle shivers.

Another installation piece, Puff of Red, is like pure jaunty thought, and from one perspective viewers can take in Miss Havisham in the foreground and the starkly contrasting Puff of Red in the background. It’s like experiencing a novel with two vastly different endings.

Left to Right: Black Sumac, Ink Blooms (Red Dance), Lines Drawn with Paper, by Barbara Owen

Among the framed drawings, Black Sumac is a mesmerizing tour de force. It’s such a powerful manifestation of the pure feeling, impossible to articulate, that comes from the brilliance of nature and seasons abstracted.

Inspired by the a previous body of work, the Bloom series, typically oil on canvas, this new paper series takes the Bloom shapes as a starting point. “You might not recognize that initial Bloom shape, but it’s there,” Owen has said. “If you look at the evolution of my work, I’m a painter who then turned to paper as a means of continuing to develop this language, the Bloom language.”

Left to Right: Lines and Outlines II, Lines and Outlines IV, Spinning Orange II (Blue and Gold), by Barbara Owen

The results remain on view through April 30 at The Lionheart Gallery in Pound Ridge, N.Y. The artist is scheduled to give a talk April 8 at 4 p.m., with a snow date of April 9.

The Lionheart Gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. For more information and directions to the gallery at 27 Westchester Avenue in Pound Ridge, N.Y., visit the website at or call the gallery at 914.764.8689.

The Lionheart Gallery