The paintings of Beili Liu, Shawn Camp, and Sandra Pratt might be what cartographers dream
Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., Dec. 7, 2012
'Post Linear'Gallery Shoal Creek, 2905 San Gabriel #101, 454-6671
Through Jan. 12
The land and the wind, and the wind upon the land: "Post Linear" at Gallery Shoal Creek brings us three forces that the world calls artists, trapping and domesticating primal elements in ways that might confound a viewer accustomed to more rigid strictures and structures of capture.
Beili Liu unveils a sophisticated version of kindergarten's blowing-on-tempera-paint-with-straws, filling canvas with dark pigmental diaspora, the sort of organic fractals that can be reached by sumi ink under the pressure of breath. Main streams of black go raggedly arterial and shade to a transparency that reads as gray against the huge swaths of pale fabric. Look: It's a collection of tenebral rivers, legendless and mysterious, a mix of Styx and Lethe and that unnamed delta forming before the ocean of Jung's realm of shadows. Look: These large works are paired with smaller creations by Liu, negatives to the positives of the Wind Drawings. The light-on-darknesses boast a wealth of shreds, potential frameworks of lace for some wayward Calabi-Yau manifold, the result of hand-cut paper and graphite applied to birch panels.
Shawn Camp's oils on canvas are works we've enthused about the relatives of in previous issues. Whether working with a single piece large enough to fill a room's wall or rendering a series of segments that could be obscured, one on one, by a dinner plate, the artist is (our history of image-immersion insists) taking geographic cartography based on aerial photography and making it his painterly own. It often seems beyond a human touch, even, as if vast landscapes chosen for their genius skills with brush and brightest mud had been encouraged to create abstract self-portraits. The vastnesses hinted at by these striking works can almost turn the gallery into a TARDIS if you squint at them the right way.
The paintings of Sandra Pratt seem, appropriately, as if the seen-from-above perspective of Camp's vision has shifted to a closer, more street-view map of representation. Here, among the artist's thickly applied planes of grays and blues, signs of humanity can be seen: a house or a group of houses wherein dwell, perhaps, viewers who will appreciate an artist's work – or people who are artists themselves – or scientists – or bricklayers – or those who collect single-petticoat glass insulators – or some other iteration of this busy monster whose recorded perceptions define the elements of wind and land and the whole classical caboodle.