“It’s a paradox — the beauty is so tragic,” Anna VanMatre says of the theme behind her latest series of graphite paintings, DeNatural Disaster. Her work is part of a group exhibition, Different Directions, at the Carnegie in Covington.
Originally from Poland, VanMatre moved to Cincinnati in 1997 and has exhibited throughout Europe, Israel, Africa and the U.S. VanMatre’s works, which involve painting with graphite powder, brushes, sticks and other tools, often relate to the power of nature. In this current series, DeNatural Disaster, VanMatre explores the power and beauty of nature in its destructive state. Her large-scale works evoke imagery of waves and smoke, suggesting both literal tempests and firestorms, as well as alluding to man-made disasters, such as war and pollution.
Upstairs, Alton Falcone’s constructions from salvaged wood are unhindered by overbearing concepts. His “Studies” — smaller, whitewashed wall pieces that are occasionally and thoughtfully punctuated by blue-stained chips of wood — give a full sense of his caring engagement with formal compositions and experimentation. Variations between wood textures, the degree of rust on nails and clusters of smaller chips of wood afford the eye a thoughtful terrain across which to move.
Mike Calway-Fagen’s quirky installations are the absolute highlight. Found objects, digital prints and a small shelf of books create a constellation of vaguely humorous concepts that inform each other in deft, engaging ways. The installation “went to leave,” comprised of a digital photograph and two found framed prints, is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in the Carnegie.
Different Directions: An Artist’s Perspective runs through June 26. Read Elizabeth Wu's interview with VanMatre here.