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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Jim Boden and Alison Denyer at Lake George Arts Project

Alison Denyer - Flow VI - graphite on paper

At first glance, the two-person exhibition by Jim Boden and Alison Denyer at Lake George Arts Project seems like a mismatch of unrelated work, one monochromatic and abstract, the other more colorful and figurative. But it turns out that Boden and Denyer share sensibilities on multiple levels, and that the pairing is quite brilliant.

Denyer, a native of England now based in Utah, makes compositions that appear to be little more than dark squares from a distance, but which upon closer inspection emerge as shimmering surfaces made of countless graphite marks on black paper. Her imagery is topographic - her subject, Earth's surface, specifically as it is affected by water.

Boden, who works in South Carolina, paints the figure with the loose confidence of an expert, quite small, on Mylar, which is slippery and translucent. His attention to the surface is no less focused than Denyer's - yet his true subject is far more profound than his simple human models at first suggest.

The experience of seeing Denyer's work from afar, glimpsing its obscurity and darkness, and then moving in to where the marks are visible and their reflective surface catches the light creates a "wow" response. Though her style is subtle, the effect is not. It is very impressive work, intensely detailed, dramatic.

Boden, on the other hand, sneaks up on you gradually. At first you think he's painting the figure for itself - yes, the palette is a bit muddy, a bit rusty, and the figures are often seated, their faces mostly obscured. Oddly, the limbs often disappear from view - are they cut off, maybe bound? The lighting is bright, then shadowy; there are signs of blood, an open mouth. My notes from this viewing show the question, "Nightmares?", then in all caps "TORTURE."

It was only later that I noticed the entire series (25 are presented here), is titled Interrogate. And that I began to think about Denyer's drawings as being about the marked and bruised living skin of our planet. It looks like a peaceful place from her satellite view - not at all from Boden's direct one. Both have something important to say.

Jim Boden and Alison Denyer runs just through June 10. Try not to miss it.

Rating: Must See

Jim Boden - Interrogate 34 - oil on Mylar

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