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Materializing the Story

At Load of Fun Studios June 16

IMMATERIAL: One Of Bart O'Reilly's Canvases

By Darcelle Bleau | Posted 6/27/2007

Materializing the Story

Load of Fun Studios June 16

A one-night-only exhibition of Bart O'Reilly and Daniel Stuelpnagel's paintings in Materializing the Story was fitting. Each painting is a depiction of time, of a reality attained, if only briefly. The exhibit's location on the the second of Load of Fun Studios' three floors was also fitting. Both painters' works explore layers--about placement on top of, or next to, or apart from.

And both artists are fascinated with landscapes. Stuelpnagel mixes seascapes with abstractions or notions of geometric shapes. O'Reilly melds landscapes with digital media representations. All of these paintings collide--with themselves, with past and future, with the artist/creator, with their audience. And in these collisions a story materializes.

O'Reilly's creations are thick with paint, layers that come off the canvas and link previous versions of each painting to its resultant self. His landscapes contain actual histories and dream histories, distorted slivers of personal experience. They also contain projected history, shot forth from some kind of collaborative or collective mind.

"It's All Auch a Long Way From Here," a large canvas of blues, greens, and pale yellows, resembles a traditional landscape, but only around the edges. In the composition's center, the ground gives way to a story of life forces at play: this landscape becomes a reflection of the psyche. "Floating Home" is a tiny canvas, about the size of a standard sheet of paper. Here, stories are piled on top of each other vertically, as if each impression had been developed, held on to for a while, and then buried underneath.

Where O'Reilly's paintings are coarse, Stuelpnagel's are sleek and clean. Where O'Reilly uses abundant materials to create depth, Stuelpnagel uses paper-fine layers and lines. In most of Stuelpnagel's paintings, color and texture alternate to form three distinct layers. Glosses on some, mattes on others, the sections of each painting are uncomplicated and sharply defined. The stories don't spring out of the layers, as they do in O'Reilly's work; they are told through harsh contrast.

Stuelpnagel may be commenting on the contemporary civilization's raping of the countryside's natural resources. His canvases are untitled, letting these stories define themselves. A landscape of mingling evergreen shades under a blue sky, which was hung in the gallery's entryway, uses texture to complicate a tranquil scene. On two canvases inside the gallery, earthy grounds and textured mountainous scenes are laid out underneath red and orange skies. Texture in his earth layers is natural, not unnatural, suggesting the chaotic internal structure of living things. Stuelpnagel's paintings are destructive, but they also hint at a potential for discovery.

Both of these painters' landscapes contain a vitality that extends far beyond their frames. This is storytelling--through material collisions.

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