‘Over 21: Pages and Marginalia’
Oscar Gillespie's stunning and intricate prints, as exhibited at Slugfest Gallery, wouldn't be more compelling if they were printed in the artist's own blood
Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., May 11, 2007
Over 21: Pages and Marginalia
Slugfest Gallery, through May 13
Oscar Gillespie's latest works, currently deepening the interior facets of that hidden gem called Slugfest Gallery, wouldn't be more compelling if they were printed in the artist's own blood. You get the idea that they would be printed that way, though, if it were necessary to achieve whatever effect or meaning Gillespie wanted to convey.
Among the more simple prints, if such stunning and intricate line work can ever be called simple, are larger pieces that incorporate original graphite drawings collaged onto the engraved paper ground, with monotype glazes layered beneath, with evidence of much thoughtful labor having created the final, textured image. These graphic intricacies and the more plentiful monochrome simplicities often depict animals, perhaps "spirit animals," in fetish form but anatomically precise, as translated from the artist's dreams and waking visions. Blacks darker than a shaman's dilated pupils, ochres like the shades of a dying sun, searing reds: These construct fractured tableaux of rabbits and ravens and their human familiars and are reminiscent of
"It's strange," says Tom Druecker, Slugfest co-owner. "There's something very Mayan about his work."
But what could be strange about a Hispanic artist harking back to the mythos of his ancestors for
"No, that's the thing," says Druecker. "He's this white guy from the Midwest, teaching at Bradley University up in Illinois. And yet, there's usually this Mayan or maybe it's Aztec? There's a definite Mesoamerican feeling to his work."
There also is a feeling of much depth, of a man driven to depict the more urgent aspects of his interior landscape with whatever processes best render the image. That those processes include printed engraving and monotype glazes and unerring pencil drawings, often in the same piece, is the good fortune of those who visit Slugfest to see Gillespie's "Over 21: Pages and Marginalia" exhibition.