The Austin Chronicle

“Will Klemm: Box of Light” at Wally Workman Gallery

The artist illuminates our world’s defining shadows with an oil-based glow

Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, October 18, 2019, Arts

"My intention is to communicate something abstract and interior," says Will Klemm, "while still referencing our everyday lives."

That intention: It's something a writer, even one who trucks in journalism, can relate to. But then, it's probably true for all of us humans, isn't it? And talk, they say, is cheap.

The Austin-based Klemm has been accomplishing that intention and showing the results since 1993, his atmospheric oils on canvas displayed in more than 50 solo shows across the nation from then until now. This newest show, "Box of Light," illuminates the interior of West Sixth's elegant Wally Workman Gallery with Klemm's iconic landscapes and rural tableaux, the scenes of life and its settings – sometimes flourishing, sometimes sere – captured in technique-forward instances of workmanship, the artist's careful brushstrokes often adding a rhythm to the apprehension of light and shadow that blossoms quickly within a viewer's mind and eventually seeds new fields of memory.

Some of these vistas so richly evoked seem, even if we've never seen them before, achingly familiar – like places encountered in dreams, in moody fantasies. (You know that Blade Runner sequel? Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049? If that palette of color and texture, that atmosphere, had been used to depict the more rustic parts of our present, and the replicants replaced with cowboys, say ... well, there's more than one way of inserting memory into a thinking being's head, isn't there?)

These paintings of Klemm's that deepen every wall they adorn are beautifully rendered boxes of light within the bigger series of lightboxes that comprise the Workman Gallery's classic architecture, these painterly images the binding in pigment of our ultimately unboxable interior and exterior expanses. This is a well-wrought nutshell, for the duration of our perception, and we can count ourselves kings and queens of infinite space within it.

"Klemm was one of the first artists the gallery represented, and we are proud to continue to show his work in our 39th year," notes the Workman statement for "Box of Light." We're glad to journalistically confirm: Yes, he was; and indeed, they should be.

“Will Klemm: Box of Light”

Wally Workman Gallery, 1202 W. Sixth, 512/472-7428
Through Oct. 27

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