In the years of prowling through galleries and other temples of art I find that the artist's preliminary sketches, drawings, and paintings tend to be a more fascinating study of who the artist is. Compositions are less defined, investigations of techniques, perspective and meaning are more on the surface and raw. The images or structures tend to have a palpability that can enrich the communication between the artist and the viewer.
Although this doesn't seem to be the case with this series of gouache and pencil on paper, shown here at the D'Amelio Terras Gallery, the works nonetheless do not disappoint. This series of work is done by Dike Blair. According to the artist, these works are “preliminary drawings...that help me map and develop more elaborate pieces..."
The funny thing about these "drawings" is that they are highly polished and finished work in and of themselves. These images are derived from photographs, carefully drawn in pencil on paper then painted paying special attention to detail and the texture of the objects therein. The result is a really lovely and stylized series of still- lifes.
The drawings are untitled and smallish ( the largest ones are 9”x12”), but they exude a certain presence that tends to draw one in. At first glance they are highly photorealistic but get in close and you'll start to admire Mr. Blair's skills.
In one image he depicts objects on a shiny table of a diner; coffee cup, opened creamers, glass ashtray with a crushed cigarette, etc. Although obviously taken from a photo Mr. Blair paints these objects with such a lightness of touch that one cannot help but be impressed by his abilities. Porcelain, plastic, glass, smoke, are all painted with precision and ease. And although the arrangements of these objects leave something to be desired, one still comes away satisfied.
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Ricardo DeSoto is a freelance journalist in New York City.