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Review: Atrium shows off new space with 'Latin Beat'

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 22, 2013 - Atrium Gallery’s new address offers parking in a side lot, all the CWE restaurants and bars and a great deal of wall space.

The first exhibit in the new space is titled, “Latin Beat” in recognition of an origins theme that traces all the 10 featured artists to the Mediterranean area and Central and South America. Outside of this lingual bond, there is no clear connection among the artists or their work, which includes painting, sculpture, photography, prints and mixed media work.

Colombian Ruby Rumié’s 5970 is an installation of 50 small tiles (detail at right) upon which are painted silhouetted figures that seem to appear from and dissolve into a resin fog. Each component is individually interesting. Together the grid of enigmatic shadow people makes up a delightful series that is visually pleasing for its alluring palette and design.

The four works by Chilean Claudio Bravo (who moved to Morocco in 1972 and died there in 2011) provide a hint of the artist’s characteristic hyperrealism. This selection of Bravo’s lithographs is remarkably unremarkable and unlikely to spark the imagination. Perhaps Bravo’s straightforward, but successfully realized, subjects - orchids, geese, horse, curtain - should be appreciated as a foil for artists such as the (in)famous and beloved Damien Hirst who Jonathan Jones of The Guardian compared to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi for his artistic audacity and delusion. If it is classical skill that the critical world clamors for, Bravo quietly achieves this in his sketches and painting.

 

Cuban Julio Larraz’s paintings are playfully appealing. His technical ability is obvious but not the main focus of his work. The effect of heavily applied paint in the creation of Cannon Ball Man makes the surface of his monotype look deceptively tactile. This and his silkscreened Corridor -which shows a heavy black steam engine progressing, impossibly, through thick green meadow – hold a through-the-looking-glass quality.

Italian Andrea Vizzini’s Installation at Galleria Praterinsell is a study of architectural space, a devotional work in reverence to internal geometries and a meta-analysis of the curatorial exercise. Vizzini’s intriguing mixed media work calls for sustained looking that can be met in the smaller room that serves as the new Atrium’s new secondary gallery.

Sarah Hermes Griesbach is a freelance writer.

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