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September 1, 2008

Nash Gallery

Katherine Nash Gallery – Waterborne

Anders Shafer -
His works caught my eye because of the unique framing of his individual pictures on the canvas. His works feature 4-12 cells, each with a distinct image. Together, they portray narratives:
-- Rubens' Trip to Spain. 4 cells. Bright greens, yellows, blues. Lots of forest scenes. Cells depict: top left – man fishing on river; top right – men on horseback crossing arched bridge, seemingly with alarm and/or haste w/ fisherman below; Bottom left – river cascading down rolling hillsides, men fording river on foot and on horseback (Spanish soldiers); Bottom right – bearded man (Rubens?) w/ musket, nobles/peasants bowing before him. I at first thought this had something to do with the Spanish landing in America, but then common sense and literacy kicked in, what with the title and all. The Spanish soldier costumes of yellow and orange make an interesting contrast with the greens of the forest.
-- Long Days Journey Through Night. 9 cells. From top left to bottom, gets darker and gloomier: bright town, warship sailing in; bewildered people, warped town, as thought their lives were being warped; man w/ suitcase – being exiled?; people near river, dressed in black, sad, dying (?); women, brightly colored dresses, seemingly being pushed, rushed, forced into next frame; same city, dark, abysmal, warship spewing smoke, pale (dead?) people in torrent of water; violent sea waters, outlines of people (drowning?); same city, (ruins?) many warships now, spewing smoke in sea of blood; carrion bird, people sleeping/suffering amongst seashells (dead?). Powerful work – makes me think of the persecution of Jews in WWII. It has a very anti-war feel, so it resonates with me.
-- Elegy to the Twentieth Century: 9 cells. Persecution of people? Ruined house, wing of destroyed American fighter plane, people huddled; colonials bartering/invading(?) American Indians. (Jewish?) Man being dragged violently, procession of suited men and buildings(?); woman, sad, breastfeeding stiff child, daughter clinging to knee, line of people packed, moving in line, all ghostly pale; child floating in air above city, eyes closed (dreaming of escape?), zeppelin (bomb?); people in camp, escaped but not back in captivity(?), scavenging.
-- Dark River of Old and Lost Civilizations: Lots of dark colors – greens, blues, purples – forests, people shaving/eating/sleeping/living. Serene, peaceful. Despite darker colors, it has a warm, happy feel.

It is interesting how many emotions he was able to portray though color: The more negative pictures had crimson reds, very dark colors, grays, smoke – the positive featured lots of green, blue, warmer reds and yellows. The exception was Dark River of Old and Lost Civilizations, where there were a lot of dark colors, but they gave the feeling more of the satisfaction of a hard days work and the comforts and warmth of home.