Butters Gallery, Portland, OR
by Richard Speer
Painter Ted Katz displayed a knack for semi-abstract idylls in his latest outing at Butters. A gifted colorist, he was at his strongest in jauntily rhythmic compositions that betrayed only the merest suggestion of literal referent—generally given away by the titles. In Voices and Birds, At Random, he deployed thick black lines in spontaneous arcs, filling them with orange-red, Superman blue, and other highly saturated hues. The chromatic intensity, along with the thickness of the outlines, contributed to Rouault-like effects. In other works, a horizon line and a minimum of other elements telegraphed content. Breaking Light suggested adobe architecture, Detour a fish underwater, and The God of Bounds, Who Sets to Seas a Shore (title from Emerson’s poem “Terminus”) a storm pouring out striations of rain and cream-colored clouds. The fluency of technique and economy of gesture contributed to a calmative, pastoral quality that captured atmospherics via intimation rather than dissertation.
By contrast, works such as Moon and Grasses and Hobgoblin Moon gave up their moons and grasses a bit too readily, without sufficient invention to enliven well-trodden subject matter. Highly textural works such as Sea of Night succeeded primarily as color studies: Katz has a facility for tweaking his paintings’ emotional calibration via exquisite adjustments in color temperature, effecting a push/pull that imparts both levity and richness. One of the show’s high points was Summer Stirrings, its picture plane divided in half, the top teeming with organic, lichen-like imagery in rust, turquoise, and mustard; the bottom a glassy expanse of teal and dark green. Like a cross section of an alpine lake where it meets its pebbled shore, the painting whispered of aqueous mysteries just below the world of air and light, beyond reach but not imagination.
BACK TO RICHARD'S ARTNEWS REVIEW MENU
BACK TO RICHARD'S WELCOME PAGE
BACK TO RICHARD'S RESUME