You enter the George Dureau exhibition expecting the celebrated interpreter of the human form, an artist who in his paintings, drawings and photography transforms the figure, even when physically compromised, into a thing of exalted beauty. You leave with that impression confirmed, but with another: an impression of timeless technical ingenuity that transcends mere talent, and, more important, a genuinely moving density of meaning.
On a sunny afternoon last month, John Alexander sat in his studio in Amagansett, surveying a boatload of motley figures on a large painting in progress he had titled “Lost Souls.” It was not a group you would want to encounter on your next cruise. The passengers of this open vessel — some of them wearing strange, beaked masks — included a fellow in a kind of dunce cap; several monkeys, who appeared terrified or glum; and a man with a dyspeptic expression who was — it merited a double take — urinating overboard. “It’s always a similar cast of characters,” Mr. Alexander said of the figures, which have appeared, in various guises, in some of his other satirical works. These tend to include “anybody I perceive as dishonest, hypocritical or just generally up to no good,” he said.
An exhibit of Amagansett based artist John Alexander’s paintings also opened on June 15. The colorful, semi-surrealist work demonstrates both a fascination with the natural world — birds in particular — and a satirical sense of humor that pokes fun at the themes of culture. The largest work in the exhibit, which faces the visitor as he enters the gallery, is “Lost Souls”, a cartoonish pastiche that is part Washington Crossing the Delaware, part Raft of the Medusa, with monkeys, beaked carnival masks, and a healthy roasting of organized religion. Alexander, who has also played in the Artists & Writers Softball Game, is represented in both shows.
Of all the artists this city has produced, there are probably none more representative of its iconic mix of flamboyant elegance and earthy eccentricity than George Dureau. Now 82, the painter and photographer was a French Quarter fixture for decades until his recent move to an assisted living facility. Despite his dexterously deft brushwork, most of his international reputation is based on a photographic oeuvre in which all aspects of formal technique are harnessed to his genius for conveying a striking humanistic presence. In this, he profoundly influenced one of his early studio assistants, a young man named Robert Mapplethorpe, who went on to become a New York art star. But Mapplethorpe could not match his mentor’s depth, as even that city’s art critics have noted in recent years. The work seen here is a classic Dureau sampler, and while it is easy to understand the popularity of his flamboyant paintings and drawings, it is his photographs that, while not for the faint of heart, will ensure his place in art history.
John Alexander presents a new series of paintings made specifically for the show at Guild Hall Museum.
New Orleans area art fans flocked in to the Arthur Roger Gallery for the opening this weekend of “Southern Gothic: An Insider’s View by Willie Birch and Paintings, Drawings” and an exhibit of paintings, drawings and photographs by George Dureau.
Self-loving, self-reflexive, or perhaps self-deprecating, Stephen Paul Day’s “Blame It On Vegas: Collecting Meta-Modern” offers many opportunities for similarly complicated readings. As both curator and artist, Day forms the exhibition’s thesis by creating and gathering an odd variety of objects from historically and geographically distant places. These objects share a palette of white, bronze, and pastels but the harmony ends there. Wavering between humor and novelty, with a hint of disgust, the viewer is taxed with making sense of Day’s assemblage of the “metamodern.”
What do the rise and fall of empires have to do with Las Vegas? Probably not much except that both are marked by glamorous and grandiose symbolism. History is a roll of the dice, and somebody always loses. Empires were often fueled by visions of vast wealth, yet they eventually crumbled. Stephen Paul Day’s Blame It On Vegas exhibition actually focuses far more on European history than it does on Nevada’s Sin City, which is mostly represented here by his oversized paintings of tacky souvenir matchbooks. By contrast, his sculptures often feature mini-renditions of major figures in European history.
The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art recently acquired the Dale Chihuly Aventurine Green Chandelier with Copper Leaf.
Smart, sure and silky smooth, Gordy’s acrylic canvases from the 1970s and 1980s remain a high water mark in New Orleans art. Gordy was one of those painter’s painter; his every work is a lesson in color choice, value modulation and economical design. After all these years, I imagined I’d seen all of Gordy’s mid-career works, but the shaped canvas waterfall featured on the gallery website was a revelation