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July 1, 2008

Chambers Gallery MFA show

Ink jet prints (grid) by Catrin Magnusson
On the one hand, this series of canvases was calming to look at. The softness of the color of white and the light gray of the airplanes felt sweet and dream-like, the tone of a picture you’d put in a child’s bedroom, however the thoughts provoked in my head were not so banal. I immediately thought of plane crashes, and it made me wonder if ever more I can see artwork depicting a plane without thinking about September 11th. I know from being in a plane flying just above the clouds that that experience can feel dream-like, but flying through clouds can feel scary, too.

Utopia 2 by Paul Winstanley
Reading the description of the painting written by Paul Winstanley himself reminded me of the parallel function of the space of a theater. He described the space he had painted as “open to the potential for human drama.? The theater is likewise a big and open space that serves as a place where human interaction (in the form of a play) can take place. Often times, theater artists say that production values (sets, lighting and costumes) aren’t necessary like the character work of the actors is. It is the drama, the interaction between people that is most interesting on stage, not the quality of the lighting. But, theater audiences rarely see a stage bare of set and actors, yet the stage is vitally important to the production of theater. What if an empty stage were the play? What if it was the art that people came to see—the place where potential exists. This painting gives such a look at a space of potential, a place where the drama of life takes place, void of everything but itself. It feels slightly eerie, because it feels unnatural, especially because the time of day is during light hours, not during the night when it would be appropriate for people to be elsewhere, at home, asleep, most likely. Because of this, I feel a palpable energy within the painted space—something should be happening or something could happen any minute.