‘The Fourth Season: Works by Ray Donley and Rosanne Olson’

A full array of masks populate the photographs of Rosanne Olson and paintings of Ray Donley, making 'The Fourth Season' an exhibition full of metaphor for both disguise and liberation

Arts Review

The Fourth Season: Works by Ray Donley and Rosanne Olson

F8 Fine Art Gallery, through Dec. 31

"And thus too, it happened, that before the last echoes of the last chime had utterly sunk into silence, there were many individuals in the crowd who had found leisure to become aware of the presence of a masked figure which had arrested the attention of no single individual before." – "The Masque of the Red Death," by Edgar Allan Poe

A full array of masks, mostly implied with others as illusive as time or place, populate the paintings of Ray Donley and photographs of Rosanne Olson. Both groups of works suggest that the division between the profane and sacred can appear perfectly seamless. Conveniently, the dialogue established between their works appears to focus on personal mythology and relationship to the self.

Donley is a painter who has fully embraced the figurative mode. A sense that all the portraits are both part of and separated by their participation in a secret society binds them in intrigue. Some of the figures are adorned with masks while others wear frontlets or have painted faces. Donley's painting makes excellent theatre as personas are exchanged between the figures. The paintings are communicable in large part because the viewer can grasp the characteristics depicted – avoidance, deceit, insecurity, and judgment. The figures seem to maintain that they are played by their roles. If, for instance, one of the figures unmasked the other, embraced and kissed, how would this act alter the other individual figures' intentionality?

Rosanne Olson's work evokes a place between the subconscious and the incorporeal. Her masked figures are creatures of ambiguity and disguise, dancing the dance of seduction and leisure. These images, like fairy tales, compress and heighten reality, becoming a landscape between what is remembered and what is lived. Her masked figures derive meaning, even as they imbue meaning contextually within the landscape. How each image is perceived, like a mask, will change drastically depending on the perspective of the viewer as spectator or collector.

Donley and Olson bring to their works fantasy, desire, and the poetic lure of many inner worlds. Being masked displaces meaning from who you are to how you behave, allowing the mask wearer to behave at once playful and sinister. "The Fourth Season" emerges as an exhibition full of metaphor for both disguise and liberation.

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The Fourth Season, Ray Donley, Rosanne Olson, F8 Gallery

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