Hot rods, lipstick tubes and cocktails ooze sex and consumerism, but they also have a more subtle and defining commonality: light. The play of light on chrome or painted metal, on a martini glass or bottle of wine — this is the subject matter of two painters on view at Red Door Gallery. "Candy & Chrome" brings together two hyper-real painters: Sharon Guyton Lalik, with her array of tasty vices, and Ken Scaglia, all fenders and vintage cars.
They're fascinated with light, what it does to form and color, how it behaves on different surfaces. The paintings are a reminder that light creates our material reality. Without it there's nothing to see.
Lalik paints texture as realistically as she uncovers light, as seen in "Corks! Corks! Corks!" an up-close image of wine stoppers, their various stamps, the flat dark stain of wine. Her most alluring painting is "Lip Candy," a tube of bright red lipstick standing alone. With no human context suggested, this image could be homage to a goddess, or a questioning of female self-image, but it's neither. It is red, metal, light and shadow. "Painting in a photographic style allows me to showcase an ordinary subject in an extraordinary way, revealing its intricate details, blemishes, and irregularities," Lalik says. "Each object is as unique as a fingerprint."
Scaglia takes photos of vintage cars then brings them alive in paint on canvas. His metals and chromes are so lifelike, they inspire awe that such effect is even possible away from the camera. "Eldo 60" and "Black Imperial" harbor the most delightful pale green paint in the bumper, which serves as the reflection of summery grass in spit-shined chrome. Scaglia's cars are pristinely hyper-realistic, and no more so than when set against the vague, more painterly backgrounds. The accuracy of his hand betrays a dedication to the subject matter. And who doesn't get giddy over vintage cars?
Photorealism is an offshoot of pop art, both of them reactions against abstract expressionism. Pop in particular was obsessed with everyday culture, advertisements, and the materials of an abundant society. "Candy & Chrome" is pop to the core, depicting objects in an emotional vacuum, just pure material form, along with branding labels such as Heinz Ketchup, Hershey Kisses and Ford. Here, Lalik and Scaglia throw the senses into that postwar America haze that spawned pop art with all the glitzy, escapist consumer culture we hate to love. S
"Candy & Chrome," paintings by Sharon Guyton Lalik and Ken Scaglia, are on view at Red Door Gallery, 1607 W. Main St., through June 29. For information visit reddoorgalleryrichmond.com or call 358-0211.