Snow, sky, roads, trees: capturing the beauties of landscape
The title of “Outsiders,” at Musa Collective, suggests a show about the fringes. In a way, it is: It’s a landscape exhibition.
The art world tends to showcase contemporary art that hinges on concept; even landscape painters are encouraged to tie their work to humanity’s relationship to nature. These artists, though, are simply landscape painters, concerned with the immediacy of painting the outdoors. The collective, made up mostly of young Boston University graduates, has invited George Nick, the nonagenarian dean of Boston realists, to anchor the show.
A pale winter sun illuminates snow-frosted brownstones in Nick’s “Fresh Snow, Back Bay.” Dancing brush strokes echo the lean lines of trees and branches. For Nick, painting clearly is a way of being awake to the moment, catching the passing light. His stone and concrete are as meltingly impermanent as shadow and snow.
The other artists, all millennials, may see something to strive for in Nick. Rob Werbicki displays some of the older artist’s gestural derring-do in “Summer Putney 2018.” A narrow road arcs past a cabin and a building with a belfry. Busy shadows and the lemony light on one wall also echo Nick: action painting punctuated with incandescence.
Grace Colletta’s dreamy “Forest View” is all about space, with soft green bundles of leaves in the foreground, a luminous slope in the middle, and in the distance a gauzy, leaf-fringed patch of sky with its own spectral presence. In “Summa, 2017,” Laraine Armenti gently orchestrates forms, as a house and looming trees pivot around a small plastic chair.
Focusing downward, Elizabeth Flood’s sharp-eyed “Roots (grass clippings)” straddles representation and abstraction. Those shifting valences invite the viewer to play; I saw a dolphin in one root.
Noah Sussman pushes his material, laying paint on thick in the trees of “Jefferson, New Hampshire,” and scrubbing it off nearby cars, making the trees supercharged and the cars evanescent.
Inevitably more hesitant than Nick, the younger artists are still keenly attentive to their own visions and idiosyncrasies. They, too, convey something larger and less tangible than the landscape.