James O'Shea , Russell Smith and Sarah Berney

April 15, 2010 through May 23, 2010

May 23rd, 2010. A reception will be held on Saturday, April 17th from 6 to 8 pm. Members of the public are welcome.

James O’Shea works with wax alongside oils and acrylics, imparting depth and complexity to his paintings. Deft, opaque marks sit atop translucent backgrounds; these surface veils, assertive in their thickness, obscure the atmospheric world behind. O’Shea’s works both indulge and challenge the eye, revealing bits of deep space only to mask them, thwart them with audacious surface.

In spite of their dynamic resistance to our attempts to navigate their space, O’Shea’s paintings have an internal calm, a compositional and chromatic accord. His color surprises and soothes. Passages of dusty terracotta soften cool compositions and call to mind frescoes of antiquity. O’Shea often revels in the gentle tactility, the presence that dry brush paint application imparts; this technique, along with the repetition of formal motifs and intimations of geometric order, makes these surfaces read like fabric.

What saves these works from directly mimicking decorative tapestry is the subtle rigor of the artist’s drawing and spatial design, the sophisticated play between foreground and background. Their visual complexity derives in part from the artist’s seeming revisionist approach that undermines the preciousness of these objects. Fresh, unfussy strokes cover up vital marks beneath, bestowing a sensuousness, a body to these works that contends with their abstract formality. O’Shea’s paintings exist as testaments to a vital process, and thus as bearers of presence.

Russell Smith, like O’Shea, endows surface with unexpected voluptuousness. This exhibit, bringing together two very different artists, acquires coherence through the uncanny life-like quality that both Smith and O’Shea invest in inanimate or typically lifeless forms. Smith’s palette comprises desolate grays and browns that, when working in relation with one another, acquire an unparalleled luminosity. Smith’s “Receptacle,” like many of O’Shea’s works, is a record of a process: its most prominent property is the sheet of warm gray paint wiped across the paper’s surface. Smith lets us see the relative regularity with which he applies this hue by preserving the bristly trace of his wide brush’s mark. Barely perceivable gradations in the paint’s consistency break the opacity of this plane of color which, although functioning within the work as a wall, is described as something organic, like skin or thick atmosphere. The meeting of the wall and the door’s contour—rendered as sharp, with juicy, rich black paint—reads like a puncture. Smith amps up his works with a lushness alien to the banal objects and events he depicts.

Alien forces contend in Smith’s “Formations.” This painting, imbued with an irony typical of Smith’s work, talks about the oppressiveness of stasis: free-floating forms—which inexplicably convey self-consciousndish white forms. In this single intimation of pressure, Smith releases the tension that the objects’ paralysis created. In Smith’s work, chance—the creeping drip—competes with intention, not only generating the titillating quess, embarrassment—occupy remote regions of the composition, barred from interaction. There is, however, one formal encounter within the work: layers of thin grey paint creep down from the top edge, gently probing pruality characteristic of Smith’s work, but giving form to a tension that drives and sustains much of contemporary painting.

Sarah Berney has been exhibiting with Carrie Haddad since she first opened her galleries in Hudson, NY. Her work for this exhibit is lyrically mystical. The works on large canvases are created with a process of layered paint that is then peeled off in gestural patterns revealing a spattered canvas beneath. Blue and gold are the prodominant colors remaining and swirl through the painted plane like a joyous roadmap. The feeling of the work is uplifting and optimistic.

Carrie Haddad Gallery is located at 622 Warren Street in Hudson, NY. The gallery is open from 11-5 Thursday through Monday.

You can call the gallery at 518 828 1915 for more information or directions, or see the show online at www.carriehaddadgallery.com

James O'Shea

Russell Smith

Sarah Berney