“Raw Beauty Blooms in Rough-Hewn Florals”, The Times-Picayune


By Doug MacCash, THE TIMES-PICAYUNE"Oleander with Shell and Fruit I", 1999

Old-fashioned modern art is alive and well at Arthur RogerGallery, where renowned Dallas artist David Bates’ aggressive abstractions dominate the walls. The subject matter of his new suite of works sounds genteel: Each painting and sculpture is a still life featuring a spray of wildflowers. But Bates’ floral arrangements are anything but exercises in quiet beauty.

Bates’ bouquets, made of scrap plywood, crushed cans, shards of fractured furniture and remnants of patterned cloth, bristle from the canvas surface like porcupine spines. They have the rough-hewn make-it-fit quality of a split rail fence. They’re beautiful to be sure, but it’s an agitated, angular, even angry form of beauty.

Bates is obviously inspired by Picasso’s broken mirror abstraction of the 1920s, but he”s definitely made classic cubism his own, infusing the decades-old aesthetic with a bigger-than-life, unbridled Lone Star State splintery energy that makes even ol’ Pablo seem tame by comparison. Bates was a regional hero of the 1980s Neo-Expressionist movement that swept the world, but unlike many flash-in-the-pan art stars of the era, he had the skill and dedication to back up his stardom with a two-decade stream of first-class art.

The show continues through Saturday. Don’t miss it.