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February 1, 2024

Review of "Earth, Sky, Water"

About the Author

Jake Agosto is a Philadelphia-based writer. As a recipient of the Barnes-de Mazia certificate, his art analysis writing is rooted in the Barnes Method, which emphasizes the examination of pieces based on their use of light, line, color, and space. In addition to writing for InLiquid Magazine, Jake has interned with the Barnes Foundation Editorial Department, and is looking to expand his writing practice and adventure deeper into the art world through Inliquid’s vast array of featured talent.
See the exhibition here

Earth, Sky, Water is a collection of paintings that evoke the restorative power of tranquil stillness and arouse a brilliant release from one’s struggles through invigorating flight. Mindy Flexer’s works are scenes of expansive space filled with wondrous figures in an energetic yet graceful motion who explore locales of interesting depth and texture, while Michael Williamson’s pieces present expansive lateral compositions that bring bold lines and rich colors to our gaze. While on view at the National, an apartment complex in the Old City area of Philadelphia, their placement in the space brought intrigue to the corners they nestled into and a refreshing air to the walls they adorned.  

Michael Williamson’s pieces rip you from where you stand and bring you into his media, placing you in settings of contemplative solitude. As navigator in his vacuous spaces, the placement of pieces in works such as the triptych of Glen I, II, and III will take you across a plane of color arrangements that invoke the passage of time and depth. A discerning alternation between compartmentalized color units and areas of clustered paint application establishes a concrete sense of perspective in the piece Cabin in the Woods

Michael’s combination of diagonal brushstrokes with vertical lines in his tree compositions generates a layered depth in his works. In Untitled (Green Painting), tree figures press up against the foreground of the canvas and immediately into view, demanding your engagement. Snippets of background color peak through where they can in modest patches of intriguing and comforting color, creating a regression into an unconventional horizon line that instills curiosity in the viewer of the depth within the space.  

Redwoods portrays density through shadow and volume, as the tree’s outlines combine with lush reds, purple, and orange to create a demanding atmosphere in the background felt through the stacking of figures and the myriad of colors pressing against pockets of black. When juxtaposed to the calmer foreground (though still precarious in its multicolored crosshatch of brushstrokes), as if units in the back are challenging you to enter its domain. 

Mindy Flexer’s works illustrate beautifully surreal scenarios with gestures and colors of intense emotion. Some pieces, like the well-paired Letting Go to Holding On and Learning to Fly pull your eyes through the ephemeral landscapes, crafted from a delicate mixture of transfusional landscapes of lightly textured color. Figures and shapes create a procession of majestic forms moving through dreamy locales. 

In Ladybird Ladybird, a pinwheel of cascading characters drenched in rich warm reds and oranges interspersed with precise and expressive applications of blues create an intriguing dance of elements. A kaleidoscopic presentation of anguish and tension transition to release and freedom. 

The Two of You is an ephemeral dance of abstracted figures composed from faint brushstrokes and color application that, despite their precarious forms, still enforce emotive power. We again see through their placement throughout the piece a binding relationship of forms in both a cyclical and expanding nature. The piece, like many others, celebrates liberation in movement and expression. 

When considering the effect of both artists' work in connection to one another, their relationships with space are a powerful contrast. Williamson’s works isolate you as you examine them, bringing you in and allowing you to be frozen in the space with the intensity of color groupings mixed with solid figures. Flexer’s works take an opposite approach and project scenes of kinetic energy and emotion, each having their own respective sense of movement. Williamson’s pieces attract the eye to every corner of the pieces to appreciate the cavalcade of color and elaborate linework that goes into each work. Flexer’s pieces also instill a desire in the viewer to travel through their settings, enamoring them through expressive, colorful figures, and unique directionality in their compositions.  

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