In its current incarnation, Julius Caesar Gallery occupies a singular, cubic room which measures (roughly) 120 square feet per side. The walls are clean and white. The light is good. And Autumn Ramsey's paintings fit well in the small, neutral space.
Though she's expressed a desire to work on a larger scale, each of the five canvases actually in the show covers an area of approximately 500 square inches. That said, in her strongest pieces an aspect of monumentality is already evident: psychologically. The sphinx is a weighty placeholder of questions regarding sexuality and death within the memory of the West. So that if her rendering and color are (see Matisse, 1905) Fauvist, her choice of subject, here, recalls Symbolism.
Gender enters the program through its obvious (female) depiction in four of the five paintings; the artist imputes a feminine gender to the (fist) fifth painting. Featured in some figures is a fleshy collapse reminiscent of Guston or (Ramsey is from SAIC) Lutes; but, contra the precedent, Ramsey's own persistent reference (here) is mammillary. Is Ramsey a Feminist painter? It's unclear.
Ambiguity works in the favor of those subjects freed from any discernible (background) context and offered--as though floating--at the center of the canvas. Not Surreal, but dreamlike, such a presentation reinforces the interpretation of the originally visual experience as a psychic encounter within the realm of the subconscious.
Where the painting succeeds--as painting--it does so by virtue of the power of color and richness of historical ground. Looking forward, it would be good to see more heavily worked surfaces accompanied by a refinement of technique.
September 5 - 26, 2010
Saturday and Sunday, 1pm - 4pm
(and by appointment )
Julius Caesar Gallery
3311 W. Carroll
Dan Gunn's 2008 review of Autumn Ramsey,
- Paul Germanos