‘Pillar and Stretch’
David Leonard and Christopher St. Leger both make very precise paintings of the essential aspects of our urban environ, and they bring them together in a great show at Davis Gallery
Reviewed by Rachel Koper, Fri., June 9, 2006
"Pillar and Stretch"
Davis Gallery, through July 3
David Leonard and Christopher St. Leger have built up quite a show this month at the Davis Gallery. Both artists make very precise paintings of skyscrapers, water towers, houses, telephone poles, roads, and all of the essential aspects of our urban environ.
St. Leger's choice of watercolor lends itself to be read as an architectural drawing and an imagined painting. Commissions from real estate developers, depending on how you feel about your architect at the moment, can be reminders of great success or failure. In The Advent, St. Leger constructs dramatic angles, layering in rhythms and some rich golden tones. Some of St. Leger's layering is more cloudlike, and the perspectives and roofing angles are buried under a color field. The repeated lines and drawings in these works are quite soothing and nice. One thing that seems missing to me is some pure white spaces. I studied watercolor with a Chinese teacher, so I was taught to seek out the dragon veins, the white lines of the paper that connect throughout the composition. These paintings do feel warm and cozy. The artist gave some loving layers to the intimate sentiment, "Vessels shelter my friends and family."
David Leonard paints buildings in Austin and places he's traveled. When I look at this new body of work, I can see his years of hard work and efforts paying off. His color is much stronger now. In the past, he mixed many of his tones by adding black, but in the current work, the grays shimmer with blue, the highlights glisten with peachy intonations. His palette is full spectrum, and the direction of the light source is clear. His basic grids, drawing skills, and attention to detail remain solid. Even though the topic of all of the works is architectural or landscape, certain pieces show a subtle humor and general pleasure. Wireless Sunset is a great little painting; the title is a jab, as the piece shows a vista of telephone poles, wires, and such crossing over a road receding into the distance. One of the most pastoral landscapes, El Paso, is basically a swirling grey smog cloud. Meanwhile, skyscrapers glow beautifully. One might guess that Glass Prairie is a grid of windows, but its abstractness shows a quiltlike lushness. Leonard has eliminated the horizon line and works purely with reflected light and the grid. Due to his newfound strength of color, these pieces are like mystical gems.
This is a great show; Davis Gallery is big enough to show a large series of paintings and some of the smaller but funnier pieces that occurred during the process.