Saturday, March 18 through Saturday, April 22
Oxford Gallery's next exhibit is entitled "Capriccio" and features the paintings of Doug Whitfield and Amy McLaren. The exhibit begins on Saturday, March 18 and continues through Saturday, April 22. A reception for the artists is planned for Saturday, March 25 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. It is open to the public.
The word "capriccio," used in conjunction with the visual arts, traditionally defines a work in which various and often incongruous architectural styles are combined in a single landscape composition. More generally, the term refers to any work of art which is irregular in nature and in which the dominant mood is one of mere frolic or whimsy. Inevitably, the subject of any "capriccio" is simply the inventive imagination of the artist.
Doug Whitfield's paintings depict a world in which reality cohabits with dreams, but they are not peopled with the abstruse and private images that we often associate with Surrealist art. Whitfield's world is decidedly accessible, with the human figure as the defining center of the composition. His characters - dancers, circus actors, performing animals - come to us as players in a fantastic theatre. They gesture dramatically and strike theatrical poses on what often appears to be a stage. They are as cognizant of us as we are of them, and they present themselves for our pleasure. But Whitfield's actors never upstage the creative intelligence which informs them.
Equally whimsical in their juxtaposition of incongruous objects, the works of Amy McLaren nevertheless exhibit a more personal frame of reference. A working mother of two young children, Amy paints the life she lives. It is a world of incessant activity, conflicting priorities, and endless surprise. Her work is often a mild satire upon the complex and harried existence which most of us lead from time to time. Yet in the very comic depiction - in the fact that life is depicted as art - there is conveyed a sense of value and worth: an assertion that, however frantic and complex, it is what we have chosen and all will be well in the end.
Though different in many ways, the work of Whitfield and McLaren have important stylistic affinities. In the work of each artist, we find crude drawing techniques coexisting with fine linear delineation. Passages of almost primitive or child-like simplicity coexist with passages of high definition and extreme sophistication. Flat forms and outlines balance against three dimensional volumes. The pieces exist as both preliminary sketch and finished painting, and they pull us into a world of "becoming." They make us smile, and they invite our participation in an act of pure imagination.