Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kathy Puzey's "Gust" at the MAPC Show

Kathy Puzey's print "Gust" grabs one's attention at the MAPC Show because it alludes to things that seem natural and familiar. An artist originally from Utah, Puzey's interests in nature are evident. Her earlier work in sculpture has evolved into printmaking and is still enamored of surface and natural forms. What captivates us is her deliberate break  from natural color as we try to figure out what is happening in this image.

Puzey's fascination with surface comes through in Gust, although we aren't exactly certain what is being 'gust' or 'blown about' in this composition. It could be a stick or tree branch in a winter storm. It could be a human leg walking about in the rain. What throws us is her color;  and that her use of  lines aren't taking us 'through' the picture from one place to another. It might be easy at first glance to dismiss this piece as decorative and more about design, but that would be missing the point of the image altogether.

There is a simultaneous static energy, and a sense of calm. The vertical column would suggest that there is a storm brewing, but it's not like any storm or waterspout I've ever seen. It has volume, and yet, it's locked in place, neither coming nor going. There are small 'energies' surrounding the column to suggest it wants to move outside of our view, but is maybe as mesmerized as we are to see it as it contemplates us.

In contrast, the background is more calm,  made up of similar colors and a neutralized field, except for a few small breaks in the grey negative space, which suggest an overcast sky. The only break in this neutralized energy are three strands of  alternating colored square beads which break the image at midsection. The device could be seen as decorative, but it is necessary to do so at that juncture.

Still there is something in this piece that reminds me of Susan Rothenberg's spartan compositions. It has an element of something East Asian in its emphasis. We see what is necessary to be seen, and no more. Only that which is the most beautiful branch, or the one thing the Asian artist deems most important, will be shown to the viewer. In that perspective, Puzey is well in tune.

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