Three Columbus artists show off their talent for the symbolic in a new exhibit at Brandt-Roberts Galleries.
The group show “Suggestion, That Is the Dream” features artists Talle Bamazi, Jason Morgan and Bernard Palchick, each of whom makes use of allusive imagery rich with meaning.
The exhibit, which runs through Nov. 29 at the Short North gallery, is available in an online version at brandtrobertsgalleries.com, featuring still images and a video tour of the space; the latter was used for this review.
Gallery owner Michelle Brandt assembled the show after recognizing the kinship between two artists she represents, Morgan and Palchick, and a third, Bamazi, whose work she admires. All three artists create pieces with unexpected features and surprising juxtapositions, but if you look just a little more closely, there is a method to what can seem like their madness.
“They all kind of use symbolism a little bit differently, but they’re all using it,” Brandt said. “That’s what tied the three artists together.”
The exhibit title is itself an allusion. In preparing the show, Brandt encountered a quote by French poet Stephane Mallarme which, in discussing the pleasure in reading a poem without fully understanding it, concluded with the phrase: “Suggestion, that is the dream.”
“What I was looking for is for work not to be so literal,” Brandt said. “In each and every piece … there is something to be discovered or interpreted.”
Bamazi, for example, makes frequent reference to the fruit of the calabash tree, which, in the artist’s home country of Togo in West Africa, not only has utilitarian uses as a container or vessel but also is imbued with spiritual significance. In Bamazi’s work, the fruit is presented as a kind of otherworldly totem, suspended in midair in several oil-on-linens, including “Sunset Flying Calabash.”
In Bamazi’s oil-on-canvas “The Storm,” a sliced-open calabash unleashes a cyclone of what look like red dots but which, in fact, stand in for COVID-19; the work is a true knockout.
Meanwhile, Palchick paints wildlife scenes that stray far from strict realism. In the oil-on-linen “Wishing,” a goose is seen resting on a straight-back chair, suggesting, perhaps, the intrusion of manmade objects in nature. The artist’s oil-on-canvas “Connected” suggests the interdependence of the inhabitants of the planet, with a series of small birds weaving together a web out of string. The birds in Palchick’s paintings are somehow more real than life; he paints them with a vibrant sense of color and excitement.
Vibrant is a good word to describe the work of Morgan, whose startlingly detailed close-up views of the tiny trinkets that make up our lives never fails to impress. In the acrylic-on-canvas “The Crown,” Morgan presents a toy dinosaur positioned in front of a halved grapefruit, the insides of which practically shimmer. Eye-popping, too, is the acrylic-on-canvas “Afterland,” which shows a toy airplane jutting out from a heap of fruit.
Like much of the work in this striking show, Morgan’s paintings are at once majestic and humorous — and, of course, open to interpretation.
At a glance
“Suggestion, That Is the Dream” will be available online at brandtrobertsgalleries.com through Nov. 29. For more information, including gallery hours, check the website or call 614-223-1655.