NICOLE CHARBONNET at the Arthur Roger Gallery
By Saskia Ozols, NEW ORLEANS ART REVIEW
NICOLE CHARBONNET’S CURRENT body of work, entitled, The Truth about God, deals with subjects such as the temporality of the material world and the power of nature. Charbonnet portrays these thoughts in a series of canvases, all done in mixed media and acrylic. Her works are at once alarming but offer a sense of calm in their soft, fresco like appearance, reminiscent of the colors of Pompeii, muted almost to a whisper with the patina of time.
In Seascape # 2, light and air fill the picture plane, creating a snow-like quality in the layered blue and plaster washes, taking turns with transparencies and opacities. Pieces of paint lie in impressionist-like application, although inspired by value and tone rather than color. From a distance, the image weaves itself together, transcending the play on texture. The overall effect is one of elegance and grandeur.
The Parting of the Red Sea, steps out of the now long traditional and widespread formula for non-objective work. This is result of the title, and the movement it brings intellectually between the lack of a representational image and the actual scene the artist had in mind. It is an enormous triptych with miles of texture, cool in temperature in relation to the pattern like quality in the implied movement of red brush strokes. The juxtaposition of the color and quality of the paint, with the sculptural aspects of what lies underneath, divided into thirds, in traditional religious format, bring together ideas and relationships from different periods of art history leaving a trinity of strong emotional, technical, and historical impact.
Across the wall from The Parting of the Red Sea, hangs a collection of studies, ripe with the artist’s background in traditional study of the fine arts, made poignant with her unique perspective. It is always a treat to see the studies of an artist, as they are not often shown. These particular studies uncover a process that births the larger body of work. The beauty of the movement of a single brush stroke finds its structure in an insightful observation of nature. A peek into this exhibition reveals an honesty seldom seen in what often passes for abstraction today.