At Ruth Morpeth

Pamela Farrell, Ophelia Red, 2009, 36 x 36 inches, encaustic on panel

Tremain Smith, Synapse, 2009, 64 x 48 inches, oil, wax & collage on panel

Lately, life and work have intervened, and I have become quite backlogged with blog posts. So even though I think it unfortunately closed last week, I want to mention a wonderful show of encaustic paintings by Pamela Farrell and Tremain Smith at the Ruth Morpeth Gallery in Hopewell, New Jersey. The gallery space is large and rambling with numerous niches, and the show included a large number of small to mid-sized works from both artists. The overall effect was an orgy of color and texture. Pam Farrell's paintings are highly concentrated color capsules built out of layers of translucent pigment. The surfaces are usually quite rough, with drips and smudges and swipes of color, forming dynamic and compact arenas of feeling. There is a vulnerability conveyed by her intensely scraped and varied surfaces, and a deep sense of longing in her veiled layers and undulating saturated color fields. Tremain Smith's works are really not so much encaustic paintings as large collages held together by layers of translucent wax. Using a fractured grid, she constructs an endlessly shifting and subtle terraine of color and surface -- soft and etherial from a distance, rugged and physical up close. Her use of close-value color contrasts within a highly complex structure pulls us into her improvisational space where the entire painting process becomes visible. In both artists' work we see a deep commitment to abstract painting as a language of ritualized creation, a mysterious embodiment of experience and spirit. Extended through the end of April -- so check it out.