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At Concord Art, spaces tell stories

Elliot Green’s “Furnace Mountain”
Elliot Green and Steven Harvey
Elliot Green’s “Furnace Mountain”

CONCORD — In “Space as Narrative” at Concord Center for the Visual Arts, curator Joel Janowitz examines how artists imbue space with story and psychological charge.

It’s not just how you build space. It’s how you interrupt it, inflect it with texture, or home in on particular details. The shallow immensity of a Rothko invites us in; the bustling breadth of a Bosch offers a God’s-eye view.

These 13 artists work with landscapes or interiors often devoid of figures. Some intercede with abstraction. In Elliott Green’s “Furnace Mountain” and “Bad Magnet,” indomitable strokes of color swoop and bloom over comparatively puny ridges, depicting a greater force than that of mountains accreting over time.

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Cristi Rinklin likewise interferes abstractly with geological strata in “Remnant,” but her subject has been strip-mined. Flat blue ribbons loop through the scene, rhyming with the swivel of the flattened ridges, as if to recognize industrial intervention as its own kind of abstraction.

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Places are ripe with history. In “R.J. Tyrone: Pine Woods; Hattiesburg, Mississippi,” Keith Morris Washington ominously depicts a dense stand of trees. Concentric panels overlap and shift the image, fracturing the downward rush of trunks, and an already suffocating scene now feels precarious. Tyrone, a “prosperous Negro farmer,” died here, text tells us, after being visited by a mob of white men. His death was ruled a suicide.

Janowitz’s own “Your Move” is a shimmer-shadow of an interior infused by the tepid, vaporous light of an overcast day. Ghostly reflections appear. Chairs and lamps dissolve in mist. Janowitz places us alone, off-season at an ancestral lake house, where memories are as palpable as the weather. Andrew Fish achieves a similar dissonance, finding phantasms in ordinary outdoor scenes by cranking up contrasts, heightening patterns, and turning figures into mere winks of light and shadow.

Simply depicting a space sets a stage. These artists use paint and graphite to fill space with portent, then call on us to finish the story.

SPACE AS NARRATIVE

At Concord Center for the Visual Arts, 37 Lexington Road, Concord, through Nov. 26. 978-369-2578, www.concordart.org

Cate McQuaid can be reached at catemcquaid@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @cmcq.