I can’t really say that there’s a unifying theme,” says New Orleans-born sculptor Ersy about the works in her first exhibit in more than six years, now at the Arthur Roger Gallery.
For an artist, no event is more significant than a retrospective exhibition. As the word implies, a retrospective provides an occasion for looking back, for identifying themes, both stylistic and pictorial, that characterize a body of work. Usually, a retrospective inevitably entails reflection and reassessment. While everyone has such moments in life – a major anniversary or a birthday marking a decade – an artist is confronted with a tangible record that must be faced with prevarication or self-delusion. For an artist to “dry up” in his/her primary medium after a retrospective is not at all unusual. Often a painter or sculptor will work only in drawings or prints for a few weeks or months on the heels of this hiatus. For an artist to make a radical and prolonged change, not only in style but in medium as well, however, is indeed unusual. But that is exactly what Robert Gordy did after his 1981 retrospective at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Few people confronting Edward Whiteman’s “reconstructed” paper-and-canvas sculptures for the first time would suspect that they were inspired by New Orleans.
The stony-looking relief pieces are irregularly contoured collages, combining torn sheets of creased and stained paper with fragments of rumpled canvas, also stained and in addition painted with bold hieroglyphic markings, usually in red. What connections could these venerable even archeological-locking sculptures possibly have with New Orleans?
In the summer of 1982 painter Robert Gordy abandoned his arch, patternizing, Art Deco-inflected signature style. Since that time he has devoted most of his energies to making monotypes, and the principal focus of his attention has been the human head. Gordy’s second gallery showing of his new work was a knockout, some two dozen suave yet honest works without a ringer in the lot. The monotype medium has provided Gordy with a form of no-risk, gestural spontaneity, and a genuine “painterliness” emerges in the trailed lines and heavily worked or mottled areas, even as the luminous etching ink and insistent gleam of white paper preserve the essential flatness which has always been fundamental to Gordy’s art.
George Dureau began his career as a painter and draughtsman, and only later moved into photography. Today, however, it is probable that many more people know his photographs than are familiar with his paintings and drawings.
She puts nature to work in her art by Roger Green, The Times-Picayune New Orleans artist Ersy uses such non-traditional materials as snake skins, tree bark and wasps’ nests in her relief sculptures. “I never pass up an opportunity,” she says, “to pick up something in nature that I can make into something else.” Ersy…