Anne Neely/Robert Ferrandini

Impressions Gallery / Boston

(Originally published in Art New England, Volume 4 Number 5, April 1983.)

Young artists, fluent in abstraction, are painting from observation, vision, and memory in a new way. In this Post-Modern painting, the language of modern art is used descriptively. It is an established language. Its laws are taken fro granted, such as that every part of the picture plane is as important as every other part; the power of the mark: fields of color and ground, formal relationships of balance and opposition. These laws and their emblems – the scrawl, the visible brush-strokes, the geometric forms, the handwriting – govern the new images.

Anne Neely’s beautiful little pastels of woods in the Adirondacks are drawn from close observations of nature filtered through a sensibility which tends to a lyrical simplification of overlapping forms, recomplicated by surfaces dense with color and mark. She imagines – abstractly – as she observes. In Inner Woods she describes a dappling of light on dark green of trees, and pale on somber browns of forest floor. The tree trunks, strong verticals, hold everything in place. A series of birch trees work as paper-white surfaces with hieroglyphics; star-speckled skies and grass-slashed greens as delicate, ironic pattern fields.

The universe Robert Ferrandini imagines is light years away fro these woods and trees. It is stark, menaced by terrific, mysterious forces. Little rectangular houses and pine trees are blown across the earth’s curved crust, threatened by tornados, attacked by furious, rolling globes or by space ships hurling lightening. Nightmare condensations from children’s books from the 1950’s haunt it: the little houses, anthropomorphic like the trains in The Little Engine that Could carried off like Dorothy to some ominous Oz. The false, bright lights inside the houses are like the false, bright calm indoors in horror movies like the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where outside lurks horror – the Other, as alien, or worse, the alien within.

Yet there is exhilaration in the terror, the vertiginous fall. These speedy, violent fantasies of destruction and chaos are tenderly, beautifully described. The drawings in graphite and linseed oil – the oil used wonderfully as color – and the swirls of paint in eerie sea greens or fiery reds compose a balanced, painterly surface. The language of abstraction pulls us upward, as the images plunge us into the abyss.

by Rebecca Nemser for rebeccanemser.com

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