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Monica Angle's Painitngs at Meibohm Gallery

"Fieldwork Series III" by Monica Angle.


Is it possible to translate the meaning of an artwork into something other than the work itself? Regardless of the praising reference to a certain painting as a physical object only the object can fully disclose its own intrinsic significance.

Appreciation of art as an isolated entity did not really exist before the Modern era. Before the Renaissance, in the “age of faith,” aesthetic beauty in painting glorified religious figures and architecture that made real the sense of a transcendental universal realm. Landscape, which before the 16th century was an incidental aspect to the main theme of a painting, merely a prop, began to take on its own significance as singular subject matter independent from pre-existing religious iconography.

It is a fine spring afternoon for a drive out to East Aurora to see the Meibohm Gallery’s first solo show of the season and the first solo show of the presenting artist, Monica Angle. At first these watercolor, acrylic, oil paint landscapes give a viewer an immediate appreciation of the simple polarities working between earth and sky. Closer examination discerns a translucent layering process pushing and pulling the surface detail in a duet of applications where paper is painted over and removed to reveal the relatively un-pigmented surface underneath. The artist’s mono-print technique of painting on glass and transferring to paper indicates a penchant for flat, organic shapes and use of color that is independently active as well as descriptive. Angle in the act of process repeats a subject field often enough to nominally form an undifferentiated series, but through additional manipulations allows each painting in sequence to become a discreet event, fusing nascent abstraction with latent representation. The viewer sees the accumulation of abstracted form and the ways they are folded or meshed into an ensemble resembling a landscape. There is a spatial quality of “presence” that can have spiritual overtones, as if in the physical evolution of process, the artist’s desire to probe the essences of nature are satisfied wholly by suggestion. In these observations from different overlooks, emphasizing the middle distance, the top of a hill, the edge of a river valley, a clearing in a wood, there is overall a serenity of the idealized pastoral.

Visiting the artist in her Tri-Main studio, she showed me her newest works—much more forcefully abstract works on paper, in a reductive palette of variable grays in multiple contrasts, effects that echo early 19th-century landscape photography with its blots and blurs, vein and artery x-rays, limbs in tracery, fragmented filaments of light, associations transformed by palimpsest to the edges of visceral abstraction.

Angle’s show at Meibohm Gallery continues through May 25.

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