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Drawings by Nancy J. Parisi at Starlight Studio and Art Gallery


The photographer’s eye is discernible behind the deft hand of the sketch artist in the current display of drawings by Nancy Parisi at the Starlight Studio and Art Gallery.

Framing and cropping to focus on essentials, what’s visually interesting, and strength and clarity of design of each work are prominent features.

Strength and clarity of design as in Ginkgo Janus, presenting two ginkgo leaves rendered in minimal pencil strokes and symmetrically placed, the leaf fans crowding opposite corners of the paper canvas, and in the other corners, white space extending to the overlapping stems at the center of the picture.

Focus on essentials—in terms of depicted subject matter as well as artistic technique—as in the depiction of a background fence, all orderly verticals and horizontals, and foreground burst of shrub foliage in contrasting obliques in all directions, barely contained and kept visually organized by the background disciplined regularity. Or a rendering of the Buffalo River in just a small column—in terms of height and width—of more or less flowing horizontal lines in two tonal weights. A piece that is simultaneously representational and abstract.

Boldly cropped examples include several straight-on views of tree trunks simply, ignoring canopy, focusing on bark texture, to a degree, but more just the factuality, immediacy, presence of the tree. The tree segment literally on a human level, what we see before us, not above us, what we can touch, lean on.

One of the works is called a landscape, but it’s not landscape in the traditional sense that usually entails something of a panoramic view, but cropped to just a few interesting contrastive elements of the implied panorama.

The one work in the show referenced to an explicit art historical source is called Plum Tree (from Hiroshige) and features what looks like a complex wall construction observed and presented in characteristic Japanese angled perspective. The Japanese artist Hiroshige flourished in the first half of the 19th century, the time period of the invention of photography, which new technology and medium discovered or revealed the prevalence of angled perspective to a degree not previously noticed or exploited by European artists, simultaneously as the enthusiasm for Japanese art in Europe validated photography as an art medium. So that the two aesthetic forces reinforced one another, confirming the new way of seeing, and ultimately fostering a wholly new aesthetic vision—aesthetic mode—in Europe, to be known as modernism.

This work presents a plenitude of information in a few sketchy, economical pencil or pen (one work in pen) marks. And vital information, focused on substance, not accidents. A work called Two Signs is a street scene with signs that don’t signify in terms of content—you can’t read what they say—but in terms of what they are. It is artwork that endeavors and accomplishes the most basic and venerable artistic function of simple, straightforward representation of the real.

The Nancy Parisi drawings exhibit continues through September 28.

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