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Four-Star Exhibit

Art Review: Philip Robertson, Cynthia Ross, Arthur Zorn and Alana LaPoint, Artpath Gallery, Burlington. Through January.


Published December 24, 2008 at 6:08 a.m.

"Line Dance" by Arthur Zorn
  • "Line Dance" by Arthur Zorn

A broad range of artistic influences is displayed by the four current exhibitors at Burlington’s Artpath Gallery: Two delve deeply into art history; one explores the spiritual meaning of organic forms; and another is primarily inspired by her inner muse, along with an odd piece of dental technology.

Arthur Zorn’s “Visual Improvisations” is a group of 13 paintings, including large-scale, multipaneled works. He combines abstract sensibilities with sophisticated chromatic harmonies. The 72-by-60-inch diptych “Chris Wants Susie” is a figurative abstraction of swoops and lines between two human figures flattened in a manner that recalls late-phase cubism. Zorn nicely varies his weights of line, and in the diptych his chromatic range goes from pale blues to lavender to emerald green.

His “Graffiti” is made from six 18-by-24-inch panels arranged three over three. The black canvasses are conjoined, and Zorn attacked them à la Pollock with acrylic brushwork and enamel spray paint. White and orange lines lace the composition together. Zorn’s 36-by-24-inch “Line Dance” is similarly scribbled, as calligraphic white lines form the topmost layer, applied over a shimmering dark field.

Philip Robertson’s contribution of 17 prints — including “Post Neo-Romantic Landscapes” — is both highly informed by the past and innovative. “After Courbet” is a small, black-and-white monotype based on a shore scene by the Barbizon School painter Gustave Courbet. Other prints make references to Van Gogh with compositions akin to “Starry Night,” and they integrate mark making with Robertson’s printmaking techniques.

Like the impressionists, Robertson draws heavily on Asian traditions. “Meditation Scroll III” is a 40-by-20-inch vertical hanging scroll of four block prints sewn together by hand. The prints form an expressive black-and-white landscape with a stand of trees on the left side of the repeating composition.

“Transformational Anatomy” is the title of Cynthia Ross’ exhibit, which includes 11 textiles, five mixed-media paintings and two 21-inch vertically hung, wall-mounted sculptures called “Cocoon.” The last are broadly wrapped, like mummies. Their scale — more akin to human infants than pupal casings — adds mystery. Ross reuses that image in her paintings, the “Modes of Transformation” series.

“Ahamkara” is Ross’ largest textile piece here. The box-framed 54-by-21-inch iconic image consists of a cocoon silhouette in canvas, with a floral-and-centipede hybrid form in white cloth sewn inside. At its head is a large flower. Of all her cocoon works, the title “Ahamkara” sheds the most light on Ross’ intentions. The Vedic term, found in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and other sources, relates to both the destructiveness and the transformative strength of Ego. Ross seems to be creating visual manifestations of that concept.

The ink paintings in Alana LaPoint’s “Stranger Folk” exhibit were created using a technical novelty: a syringe for irrigating the sockets left by tooth extraction. (She describes the discovery of that tool in her artist’s statement.) In LaPoint’s 20-by-24-inch ink-and-watercolor-on-paper piece “Please Don’t Go,” an abstracted face is described in a delicate fugue of drawn (and maybe injected) black lines. The face is as beautiful as any found in the works of Paul Klee. LaPoint’s subtle gradations of light earth tones, pink and blue illuminate her shapes and move the viewer’s eye slowly around her picture plane.

This quartet of collections makes for yet another intriguing Artpath exhibition. More than just a pass-through for waterfront walkers, this narrow gallery should be considered a destination — especially in the winter.