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at Holly Johnson Gallery through June 22
by Todd Camplin
When minimal sensibilities meet abstract figuration, they give birth to works like Sharon Louden’s
paintings. Perfectly titled, “Simple Strokes,” this show is like viewing an empty room with a crowd
of people outside. However, a few unusual pieces of sculpture and one video shake up the
grouping of paintings.
|Sharon Louden comes from a strong pedigree of art schools and it would seem that the work
considers many of the art movements of the late 20th century. I see AbEx, classic Minimalism,
and a little bit of the whimsical feeling of Paul Klee. Her short, simple strokes seem sophisticated,
while managing to almost simulate mark making of well controlled children. Her marks are
layered and dance across the canvas with ease. The brush strokes are rich translucent paint
which feel charged with energy and life. You can feel the tension between complexity and
simplicity in each piece. The quiet ground plane and loud brush stroke rattle the picture
with contradictions. Louden might be prophesizing a coming catastrophe or maybe she is
foreshadowing an emerging property in the visual arts.
|With a clear nod to Frank Gehry, Louden’s sculptures address movement like her paintings, but
now through the bending of metal and reflection of light. With a splash of color, these silver wall
pieces feel like segments of a Post-Modern architectural building. These pieces feel like they
could grow all over the walls and ceiling. Such an installation exists, titled “Merge” at the
University of Connecticut. These smaller pieces still manage to feel strong and stand
alone as sculptures, but I would love to see the installation.
|Because this is Dallas, video doesn’t always get its full due, but Holly Johnson gives Louden’s
animation an appropriately prominent display screen. The gallery treats the works like a
painting or wall sculpture in that the screen is among the other works. You view it with the
paintings and sculptures, and then compare the work. This creates a dialog amidst her work,
which is often lacking in other shows that feature artists with such diverse mediums.
|Sharon Louden’s show seems light, but leaves you feeling heavy and thoughtful if you allow the
work to seep in. This is not a show you can take a quick run through and get a quick read. Rather,
you have to breathe this work in and let it settle in your mind. Yet another thought provoking
exhibition by the Holly Johnson Gallery. You have till June 22nd to see the show. By the way,
this is the last weekend to see Theresa Chong’s work. I may not be able to connect all the
dots and dashes in this show, but will miss seeing this work in the back gallery. I imagine
Chong and I might be on a similar wave length of thoughts and aesthetics.