It’s amazing how inanimate material still can impress the immediacy of movement and life. Even a mark in stone can imply the presence of kinetic energy: poised, paused or completed. The drawing and sculpture exhibition at Reynolds Gallery shows three distinctly different artists, each a master of implied movement in static form.
Nancy Blum, a Philadelphia-based artist, makes large-scale drawings of wild, sensual botanicals. She layers paper with ink, colored pencil, gouache and pencil in the form of spirographs, freehand drawings, repetitive patterns and plant physiology. The compositions teem with movement hardly contained on the page. The juxtaposition of non-native flora in one space, in exaggerated sizes and gouging color, results in a sort of botanical surrealism. But for all the crowding of forms and jostling energy, the work still draws viewers in, leaving them feeling as if the trumpet flower could be inhabited or the stamen climbed.
Three stainless-steel sculptures represent the intricate, painstaking craft of Ross Caudill, who holds a master’s degree in fine arts from Virginia Commonwealth University. “Accelerator,” though measuring more than 5 feet by 5 feet, floats weightlessly on the wall. The movement is fluid and the circle mythic as it contorts around and around eternally. The structure is reminiscent of roller-coaster scaffolding or a toy train track, but slick in shining metal. The basis for the structure exists in the minute welded points, each one tended by the artist, all creating a life-infused yet industrially spawned form.
Stephen Talasnik, exhibiting in Richmond for the first time, created a site-specific installation for Reynolds Gallery’s upstairs. His two large-scale sculptures have an angular basswood infrastructure netted with flat bamboo that dips, snakes and turns every which way. The structures summon the salt-air memory of nautical construction, like the skeletons of boats waiting quietly for their skin, ready for a job at sea.
Talasnik’s drawings lack the satisfying simplicity of his sculptures but offer the same sense of movement and dimensionality. His collage work manages the best of both, with a hint of color to seduce.
Artists like these, who choose to work in multiple dimensions, perhaps betray an obsession with the seemingly impossible: the animation of inanimate objects. Like the sculptor Pygmalion of Greek myth, who falls in love with his creation and so begs Venus to grant her action, movement and life.
Nancy Blum’s “New Drawings,” Ross Caudill’s “Accelerator” and Stephen Talasnik’s “Boulder Field” are on view at Reynolds Gallery through Oct. 27. For details visit reynoldsgallery.com or call 355-6553.