Crit Group, Emery’s Tetrad, March 2011

The painting below consists of four panels, hence “tetrad.” Jerry Dickason, who took the photos and then sent them to the group, called it a tetrad, and I’m taking the liberty of titling it so.

I never know whether to show a multi-paneled piece as a complete whole first, or to begin with its parts and then show its full scope.  This time I chose the individual parts, starting from the left. I rather liked the unfolding of the individual panels as I scroll through them.

This is Emery Hinkley’s “Tetrad.”.

Emery Hinkley, 30 x 24″, oil on gessoed paper (One of four)

Emery Hinkley, 30 x 24″, oil on gessoed paper (Two of four)

Emery Hinkley, 30 x 24″, oil on gessoed paper (Three of four)

Emery Hinkley, 30 x 24″, oil on gessoed panel (Four of four).

In looking at the individual panels, I notice that they are quite graphic as well as representational. This isn’t what I’ve grown to expect in Emery’s work, which I would have described as generally painterly and abstract. Emery almost always works on gessoed paper, which must give her paints a good tooth to grab hold on. And because I saw this piece in an earlier incarnation in real time, I know that there’ s a “ghost” tree that floats behind these branches, more obvious in the whole than in its parts. The underwater feel, particularly of panel one, shows up frequently in Emery’s paintings, although she lives in a forest and not on the Coast. But this “water” feels like a sunlit fog.

The delicacy of that “watery” background, which seems to move and float in its soup of gentle color has that feeling of ease that belies the work that goes into achieving the effect. The strong warm colors of the first (left) panel give way to cooler colors and then the flash of orange returns, only this time embedded rather than floating on the surface. It becomes that haunting tree, in the fog (?) and other foliage behind the dark branches that straggle across the paper.

Here’s the full triptych:

Emery Hinkley, 30 x 96″, oil on gessoed paper

The floating dark leaf shapes, countering the muted warm “sloshier” shapes below them on the left, pull the eye to the darker, more forceful shape of the branch. This feels like an old tree to me, one that has become gnarled by virtue of natural forces pulling at it. Yet the feel of the whole is one of strength, enhanced by the deep browns of the branch against the greens and golds and light orange of the background.

I liked this in its first incarnation, but I can’t quite remember how this one differs from that earlier version. This version is apparently strong enough to wipe out earlier memories.

So here, in these last three posts, is my take on the crit group’s output last month, a “take” which comes only from looking at web images of the work. I hope the individuals whose work I’ve talked about let me know, publicly and privately, where I’ve gone wrong in my assessments of  “likes.” And we will continue our critique process when we meet in April.

I’m still working on a textile commitment, so maybe I’ll have to give them a real challenge and see what happens when a bunch of good painters get confronted with, gasp, quilted and not-painted (but not necessarily decorative nor functional) art. –June

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