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KShaw

Ali Cavanaugh

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There’s a critical piece linked over in the Avatar thread that suggests that the greatest spectacle film has on offer ‘is the human face as its mind alters or saddens.’ True or not, it has a lot to do with what engages me about Ali Cavanaugh's art. She's one of the few in the world working in her medium, which is a modern take on fresco with watercolor on clayboard, and her work has a terrific luminosity and delicacy of vision. Light plays a huge role in her paintings, and some of my favorites show her models interacting with it like another character, like the sunglasses piece below. (My other favorite contemporary painter is Ed Knippers, but he's a bit more well known around here, I think.)

there is a gentleness in your light

there-is-a-gentleness-in-your-light-g.jpg

hidden #1 (part of a triptych)

veiled-1-b.jpg

Her work recently appeared on the cover of American Art Collector. Her website is HERE.

Edited for verbiage/pretentiousness.

Edited by KShaw

Everything that matters is invisible.

-- Robert Bresson

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Also wanted to highlight her oils. She doesn't do them anymore, but they're what initially drew me to her work.

holding the sky open

the sweet sounds... the fluttering

...it's just a backdrop

holding%20the%20sky%20open%20for%20blog.jpg

For me, she stops just short of sentimentality, hitting that sweet spot of poignancy (though I'd welcome disagreement and discussion!). The following painting provides some fodder for the realism-in-art discussion that was going on in another thread. Notice how the realistic treatment of colors and patterns is almost abstract. This is high realism, but in service of visual abstraction.

the thought was intended to restore bliss

the-thought-was-to.jpg

Edited by KShaw

Everything that matters is invisible.

-- Robert Bresson

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Her work is very evocative. I like the fact that she includes the heads and faces which make these people very much individuals. A kind of anti-objectification. The clothing and jewelry add colors and shapes that illuminate the souls of the individuals.

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Her work is very evocative. I like the fact that she includes the heads and faces which make these people very much individuals. A kind of anti-objectification. The clothing and jewelry add colors and shapes that illuminate the souls of the individuals.

Yea, I like this about her work, too. She often does almost the opposite, though--many of her figures are incomplete with faces covered, and their bright clothing almost elides their individuality. This device doesn't cause them to be objects; I think it reflects the feelings of her subjects when placed in a position of doubt. Or sometimes it gives them an otherworldliness. It depends on the gesture.

create in your mind what your eyes cannot distinguish #1

create-in-your-mind-what-your-eyes-cannot-distinguish-b2.jpg


Everything that matters is invisible.

-- Robert Bresson

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I'm slow. I have to look at art for a long time. I've always envied people who could "get things" quickly. I always have to watch a movie at least twice, listen to an album or a song over and over, look at a piece of art over and over, even with choreography (which is where I spend most of my time) I have to chew and digest a long time over several viewings, before I can really articulate the sense of what I see.

My initial reaction was very vivid imagery. It's kind of hyper-realistic (although I am probably using that term incorrectly) in the sense that it is realistic, but (usually, but not always) in a somewhat non-realistic setting. The stark white background that is in most of her paintings, while adding a sense of light, gives no clues as to the action or environment within which the object is caught. What is the one girl looking at where we actually see her eyes? Day and night and environment are unimportant, yet we still feel that the women are somewhere contemplating something about... someone?

And with all the sense of light, there seems to be something dark or hidden underneath it all. There is a restlessness or oppressiveness or repressiveness to many of the pieces. The socks over the hands and arms add colour, but they hide the hands. Why? It makes the piece where the artist articulates the hands of the little girl even more striking. And the one with the older woman's fingers are exposed, they are still guardedly so. But the hands of the older women are important, the sox draw undeniably to them. Never idle, either. Shading the face, covering the head, reaching for, expressing, or holding "something". Never insignificant.

Just some thoughts,

Joe


natureofthebeat.svbtle.com

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Thanks for you thoughts, Joe. I like how you say 'hyper-realistic,' because that's a term that comes to mind a lot for me, too, even though I don't know what it actually means. For me, it connotes something like an over-worked realism; many people say that they think of a photograph when they look at one of these paintings, which I just don't get, since this combo of light, color, and detail is not something I ever see in a photo. A photo portrait would feel more ad hoc and of the moment than these, to me. So photo-realism isn't the word. Hyper-realism's good enough. Or realistic impressionism or impressionistic realism? I guess I'm sliding into incoherence there.

Your point about the repressiveness behind the figures and their socks is interesting. It's true, often the socks and poses look awkward, suggesting some turmoil and inner struggle. Like the last painting I posted: it's title may as well be 'create in your mind what your eyes will not distinguish,' since she's obstructing her own vision. Maybe a silly point, but it comes through even more clearly in the second part of the diptych.

create in your mind what your eyes cannot distinguish #2

create-in-your-mind-what-your-eyes-cannot-distinguish-2-b.jpg

I'll go and thin out some of the paintings I posted to make it seem less like spam, which it hopefully isn't. In the meantime..

hidden insight

hidden-insight-b.jpg

Incidentally, she is a devout Catholic, so no doubt the 'Arts & Faith' moniker is relevant.

Edited by KShaw

Everything that matters is invisible.

-- Robert Bresson

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