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Mixed Media, Messages, and Student Success

The Triptych Gallery Opens Third Show, Displays Paintings

By Suzanne PETREN Moritz

The collection of student paintings in the latest Triptych Gallery exhibit Studio 5 definitely merits inspection. While the success of these works is greatly varied, the show is, overall, an interesting compilation of visual images.

The exhibit, highlighting the works of Visual and Enviromental Studies (VES) classes, requires the viewer to consider the pieces in light of the learning process. In several paintings, compelling concepts are diminished by weak realizations.

For example, the four works of China Forbes, are troubled by the rift. One painting, "Dead Leaves," is an interesting idea--Forbes assembles painted leaves upon a canvas. Closer attention to arrangement and the use of color would do the idea more justice. As the work stands, the colors are monochromatic and the leaves seem placed without purpose, making the painting bland.

Forbes' most successful piece is "Cow with Tree in Mask." The lively brush strokes and the great depth of color in the tree's foliage make part of the painting commendable. But the picture is weakened by the unrelenting blackness of the mask, which destroys the harmony between sensuous lines and color.

The most common weakness in the exhibit is a lack of boldness in the use of paint as a medium, not just a mode of color.

"Sumo Wrestler" by Laura Evans exemplifies this timidity. The artist successfully uses color. There is a bold contrast of orange, blue, and green, well suited to the subject matter. The weighty aggressiveness of a Sumo wrestler is further underlined by the artist's blocky style. But the painting technique leaves a lot to be desired, with one thin washy layer and no variation in strokes or thickness. Because of an unsophisticated use of oil, the painting appears to be a sketch for a future, developed rendition.

But the exhibit is not limited to oil paintings--it also contains very compelling pieces that use mixed media and texturing techniques.

One piece, titled "Collaborative Yellow," in which each VES student of one class contributed a strip, is an exercise in varying items for texture. Among the everyday elements featured are sponges, licorice, and wash clothes, covered in bright yellow paint. The vivid color and interplay of textures draw the veiwer in to examine what beneath the paint creates the unusual texture. The painting is fun to look at.

The most striking use of mixed media is Yannis Aesopos' "Family Picture," comprised of oil paint and xeroxed images. The piece repeats images and words, and creates a powerfully disturbed view of a family. Near the bottom of the work is a hand holding a remote control, and an obscured "off." The artist apparently wants to shut off the very presence of the family. Not only is the theme of the painting compelling, but the integration of paint and xeroxed images is extremely well executed.

The other painting by Aesopos, "Vehicular Space," shares with the multimedia work a successful sense of perspective and progression. In this provocative black-and-white representation of New York, the shading and bold strokes lend the work depth and movement.

Another work worthy of special attention is the four-part oil painting, "Khakasa," by Jeremy Bollinger. The piece depicts different body parts and is successful because of its rich and subtle use of color, and the elegance of its images.

But not all the pieces in this exhibition are skillfully done, or even originally conceived. "Two Dogs," by Nicholas Dunbar is a sloppy rendition of a somewhat dull concept. Pastel, dripped paint surrounds a dog, presented as an angel on the first canvas. On the second canvas is another dog, represented as the Devil, as not so subtly suggested by his red horns and tail.

This is Triptych's third exhibit this term. Organizers, John Goldstone and Taran Davies, plan two more shows before Commencement. The gallery, which normally presents two to three exhibits a semester, has had an active term, Goldstone says.

"Triptych has become a lot more publicly known and so we get approached by more art classes and student artists," Goldstone says, explaining a reason for the increased number of shows. But Goldstone says Triptych is limited by funding.

Triptych plans another painting class show for early May, and possibly a show of senior works directly preceding Commencement.

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