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Neil Mahar's paintings and mixed media at the C. G. Jung Center

"Temple Guard" by Neil Mahar.

Neil Mahar’s paintings and mixed media at the C. G. Jung Center

Neil Mahar shows monthly at College Street Gallery, a longstanding storefront enterprise founded in the late 1990s by Michael Mulley a faithful photographer of Buffalo’s poignant scenic reminiscence.

Most First Fridays, Mahar is a no-show at gallery openings, but his work is always amusingly engaging for its uneasy melding of facility and abrupt whimsy in rudimentary recycled materials such as shown in his “meat tray” series, small polystyrene trays with wooden skewers running thru them depicting scenes of miniature figures, animals, and snatches of text in dioramic play buried under glazes of gel. He also exhibits works on canvas that give the impression of being forcibly removed before he was quite finished working on them.

At the C. G. Jung Center, Mahar is given room to stretch out his musings on the vagaries of gender-specific roles, primal fears, and the continuing mysteries that guide what in another generation would be called a Fellini-like fascination with the strong and weak, in fey images of canoeing Indians, a glowering Godzilla, storied jungle animals like tigers and leopards, anxious-looking obese bunnies, sword-armed baby dolls, and undulating dragons. Devils, shape shifters, and myriad miasmic puppet figures cartooned in seemingly half-finished scrawls beat against the subconscious until something like a meditative surface is breached. A patron moves a step back to be sure he has taken it all in.

Mahar’s enigmatic ink drawings, summary, spare, and delicate, hint at mythic existential concerns. Friable materials such as corrugated and paneled cardboard, as well as the meat trays, indicate a kind of calculated offhandedness of presentation contrasting with his bold poly-chromed acrylic paintings. Like illustrated sutras, Mahar’s work examines, in his elegant restraint, a worldview as if resurrected from dreams hastily recollected.

The Jung Center Gallery will participate in the August 3 First Friday, during the Infringement Festival. At other times the show may be viewed by appointment: 854-7457.

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