COURTESY OF PRISKA C. JUSCHKA FINE ART
Katzen’s new winter exhibits have a bit of an identity crisis.
Identity is the common thread that runs through all the exhibitions, from Anil Revri’s religious abstractions to Raoul Middleman’s burlesque depictions of life in Baltimore.
Although very different in style, each exhibit focuses on some aspect of identity: as an individual, as a spiritual being, as a consumer and as a part of a whole.
Anil Revri — “Faith and Liberation through Abstraction” — Open until April 15
Indian painter Anil Revri’s work is simultaneously abstract and overt.
In the center of his exhibition on the first floor is a four-sided LED-lit wall called “Wall for Peace” on which passages related to peace and acceptance from six different world religions scroll by.
From this, the message of the entire exhibit is clear: religion can bring us together instead of push us apart, making the exhibit a mecca for the “spiritual but not religious” crowd.
Revri’s signature, larger paintings are intricate geometric patterns reminiscent of the most complicated tapestries ever made. Revri’s form of abstraction breaks from the expressionist, paint-throwing paradigm of abstract art, instead creating something mechanical, symmetrical and painstakingly intricate, which is intended to be meditative, but also has the potential to be uncomfortably orderly.
Throughout the exhibit, Revri never strays far from the ecumenical message stated in “Wall for Peace,” staying so close to it that at times he runs the risk of overshadowing his art.
Cristóbal Gabarrón — “Gabarrón’s Roots” — Open until April 15
Gabarrón’s exhibit in the atrium is one of the smallest exhibits but is a definite highlight of the winter collection.
Gabarrón’s vibrantly colored sculptures are clearly inspired by organic forms and maintain their natural feel despite being constructed from steel and fiberglass.
The result is a striking contradiction between their industrial material and their organic inspiration and shape.
In addition to sculpture, there are several circular paintings that also deal with organic and natural inspiration. The frenzied, abstract painting style implies a whirlwind of motion within each, depicting the natural world as it moves around us and capturing the energy of the subjects rather than the accurate appearance.
Raoul Middleman — “City Limits” — Open until March 18
Raoul Middleman turned to his hometown of Baltimore for inspiration for “City Limits.”
In addition to landscapes of the more neglected parts of Baltimore’s harbor, Middleman creates gothic, burlesque depictions of sexual encounters, turning the entire third floor into a carnivalesque brothel from hell. His nudes are not idyllic or romantic, but rather gaunt, depraved and desperate.
Middleman’s solo portraits look desperate and self-conscious, and feature gross corruptions of stereotypical beauty. Meanwhile the group paintings are always over-the-top depictions of sexualized carnival performance.
Middleman said he turned toward burlesque performers for inspirations and seems to have taken that inspiration to create an entire universe wherein the everyday is turned into burlesque performance.
Zöe Charlton, Tim Doud, Deborah Kahn, Luis Silva — “Regaining Our Faculties” — Open until March 18
The second floor of the Katzen museum includes work by four AU professors returning from sabbatical. Highlights include Charlton’s “Paladins and Tourists Series” and Tim Doud’s “Blue Series.”
Charlton’s work includes several life-size graphite and gouache nudes, each of which simultaneously highlight the figures’ nudity and their few pieces of clothing or ornamentation, the only parts in color on the pieces.
The subtlety of the colored portions contrasts with the blatant intrusiveness of the nudity and highlights the subtle, but incredibly important, distinguishing characteristics between the different subjects.
Doud’s “Blue Series” is a collection of incredibly realistic self-portraits wearing different brand blue shirts. The technical skill is some of the best in Katzen and the concept of comparing this sweeping amount of brands via self-portrait is interesting to the fashion aficionado and anti-capitalist alike.