Angie Renfro: Solo Show

Renfro's paintings elegantly evoke a sense of sorrow-tinged wonder about humanity's triumphs of creation

<i>The Lines We Draw</i>, by Angie Renfro
The Lines We Draw, by Angie Renfro

Wally Workman Gallery, 1202 W. Sixth, 512/472-7428
Through Jan. 25

The idea – for too many people, it seems – is that there's nature and then there are humans and their works. Like, a dam built by beavers, a nest chewed and mindlessly sculpted into existence by wasps: Those are somehow more fundamentally natural than a condominium tower, an oil refinery, a suspension bridge ungapping the distance between one firmness of terra and the next.

Which is, of course, poppycock.

And what brings the truth across the divide separating misconception from actuality – the truth that it's all natural, even the human-based bits that seem intent on rendering this planet ultimately uninhabitable by the species doing the construction – one of the things that bridges this gap so elegantly is the series of oil-on-panel paintings by Angie Renfro, now on view at Wally Workman Gallery.

When Renfro's attending to the classical naturalism of unaltered landscape and wildlife, her oils work wonders of description, capturing not just the way these creatures (bees, whales) and places (meadows, forests) precisely look but also something of their essence, of what it's like to be alive and witnessing the paintings' subjects. Something about the way the artist handles light, the intentional maneuvers against photorealism, the welcome roughnesses of this-is-paint-that's-happening-here, floods a vicarious experience of the considered world into a viewer's sensorium. And that treatment doesn't stop, doesn't shift, when Renfro's subjects include concrete ductworks along a traffic'd highway, what appear to be oil refineries, the tops of telephone poles and their various gall-like attachments.

There's that book from several years ago: The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman, about what would likely happen to this planet – in 10 years, 50 years, a thousand years, and more – if all the people on it suddenly disappeared. Renfro's paintings bring that book to mind, evoking a sense of sorrow-tinged wonder that all of humanity's triumphs of creation are, in the end, doomed to wither and decay as surely as the rest of the natural world. And yet, here we are now, in that tony gallery on West Sixth, not yet extinct at all, still alive and thriving and hungry for all the beauty that life yet serves. How fortunate that some human-made examples of that beauty are so artfully arrayed on the familiar Workman walls.

More Austin visual art
"Ryan Cronk: Migration Wisdom, Chalk Lines, Tracings, and Undertow"
This solo show explores new existential threats in sharp analytical prints and layered chaotic collage

Seth Orion Schwaiger, Sept. 5, 2014

"Michael Anthony García: Chimaera"
This ambitious solo show explores gender duality with the help of furniture and clothing borrowed from friends and family

Seth Orion Schwaiger, Aug. 29, 2014

More Arts Reviews
Zach Theatre's <i>Tribes</i>
Zach Theatre's Tribes
Nina Raine's award-winning drama explores the different forms of language and how we understand each other

Elizabeth Cobbe, Feb. 12, 2016

The Rude Mechs' <i>Fixing Timon of Athens</i>
The Rude Mechs' Fixing Timon of Athens
The theatre collective's latest repair job on a broken Shakespeare play is wildly accessible, welcoming, and enthralling

Shanon Weaver, Feb. 12, 2016

More by Wayne Alan Brenner
ColdTowne’s <i>Express Yourself</i>: Heavy and Humorous, Satirical and Serious
Express Yourself: Heavy and Humorous
What we all need much less of, generally, is entitlement

Feb. 11, 2016

What Makes You Think That You Think?
What Makes You Think?
Austin-based cerebraphile Ms. RAZ shows us – graphically, gorgeously

Feb. 10, 2016


Angie Renfro: Solo Show, Austin visual art, Wally Workman Gallery

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, SXSW Daily Edition

Our latest from SXSW 2016, delivered March 11-20

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways