Exhibition Review by Maria Medua
November 14, 2012
November 14, 2012
“Oakland-based artist Narangkar Glover paints re-imagined landscapes that have powerful psychological resonance. Beginning with photographic source material, Glover pieces together pictorial fragments and makes preliminary charcoal drawings on canvas. She then develops the work in multiple layers of oil paint with intense, smoky brown colors. Her compositions include natural elements like striated rock formations, looming canyons and rapidly flowing rivers. These images quickly pique our appetite for mystery and danger. I recognize Glover’s scenes from reoccurring dreams in which I relive my previous day’s events as fantastic episodes in wild locales. Like Gothic fiction, these paintings allow us to encounter things that are fascinating and tremendous within the safe confines of art.
Glover’s tour de force is a painting called “Collins Canyon.” The piece is large at more than five feet tall and wide. The way it is hung, a little low and in close quarters, does not allow you to get much distance from it. You are placed within the picture. Glover’s threateningly strong current of dark water, created with a bold horizontal application of paint, seems like it would be impossible to swim across. This painting can be experienced in a remarkably physical way. It tries to pull you off shore and you have to do your best not to be submerged by it. Then it throws you a lifeline. The horizon at the upper most portion of the canvas offers just the slightest hint of light, encouraging you to pull your head up out of the water and strain towards safety.
Gwen Manfrin’s colored pencil drawings may also bring back recurring dreams– the ones where you are back in high school and you can’t remember the combination to your locker or the date of the Louisiana Purchase.
The majority of her work depicts teenage girls which are of interest for Manfrin because, “social dislocation is particularly intriguing in the adolescent world, one so painfully full of angst in the desire to belong.” A charming image, “Rescue” captures youthful exuberance as one girl gives another a piggy-back ride. The series “Understatement I-V,” consists of five portraits of bared mid-driffs. The coarse denim micro shorts, while not covering much of the body, provide Manfrin with ample folds, frayed edges, gabardine textures and shadows to prove her ability. The “Understatements” are anonymous portraits– more depictions of women in general and the subject of fertility specifically.
Manfrin also includes two drawings of her elderly mother which speak to the final phase of life. Here we see how intuitive draftsmanship can gently reveal aspects of personality and shed light on a compelling theme. The portraits “#1 Mom” and especially, “Over the Rainbow,” bring all the stages of a woman’s life full circle– we see this person as a mother, as an individual, and thanks to Manfrin’s skillful hand, someone with the glimmer of youth still in her eyes.”