Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Leslie Neumann @ Nuance Gallery in Saint Pete.

In March 2012, I wrote about Leslie's art: "Neumann's art is about transformation, interleaving realities, unity, connections, and the realization that the same laws and forces permeates everything around us and we are but their living expressions." That was about the work in a 2-woman show at HCC Ybor. Currently, her work is being shown at Nuance Galleries in St. Pete.

Leslie Neumann, "Sovereign"
Leslie paints what she calls her cosmic paintings. Referred to as related to "the primordial soup", they are about outer and inner space. In "Sovereign", a large celestial body exerts its gravity on smaller moons and a large dust cloud behind it. The egalitarian forces of nature at play.

Leslie works in encaustic, which is basically oils in wax, which is heated and brushed, knifed or finger-painted on in layers. One of its  beloved qualities is a distinct luminosity. Click here to see Leslie talk about and use encaustic [Link].

Leslie Neumann, "Reflections # 05"
The landscapes are based on the Floridian estuarine environment that surrounds the artist's home. She is not painting literal landscapes, though there probably are impressions and memories that serve as referents. She says she paints how she "...feels about..." what she sees.

In "Reflections #05", there are trees at the water's edge. Behind them is a large orange blob. Is it the sun? Leslie has said before that some of the flame-like things in her landscapes were swamp gas lights, but I doubt that explanation here, since descriptions make them out to be small lights or balls of light. The one in this work is large and there are several smaller orbs rising or hovering around the large one. This is more magical than logical. Looking at the reflection on the water, it seems to have little in common with the landscape above it. Looking like a different mirrored landscape, there are tall wispy trees and aquamarine squares, looking like tiles. These, like some of the other things in the work are abstractions within a somewhat Impressionistic landscape/innerscape.

Leslie Neumann, "Woods 3A"

Forms rise, enjoy weightless moments and fall in these paintings, expressing their configurations as matter and energy (the same thing in different guises).  On the left is "Woods 3A". This is more abstracted than the work above. There is a tongue of fire in the center framed by two pillars of light. columns of tree trunks flank either side. The ground below is golden. Note Leslie has incised a spiral on the middle close to the left edge, and two asterisk-like forms across to the left. The former could be taken as a sign of growth, time and more. The overall feel of this painting is that of a plein-air temple. 

Leslie Neumann, "Reflections 24"

 In "Reflections 24", it can clearly be seen that these are personal reflections about Nature. Again, we see the fire burning bright, a spiritual, not literal kind. Here the water in the foreground is aboil, spewing flecks of gold into the air. In this painting, as in the others, one enters into a sacred space. The artist's reverence for Nature is expressed purely and without reservation, the nexus between fire, water, earth and air. That eruption of gold from the water speaks to me of transcendence.

Congratulations to Leslie Neumann and Nuance Galleries for a good show.

--- Luis

Nuance Galleries St. Pete, 2924 Central Ave.  

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