Color rules at Pease Gallery's Oil Spill exhibit | Point 8

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Color rules at Pease Gallery's Oil Spill exhibit

Posted By on Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 9:20 AM

Linda Luise Brown’s paintings are big, exuberant affairs. “Oil Spill,” her current exhibition at the Pease Gallery on the campus of Central Piedmont Community College, offers a chance to see these works just as they should be seen — by themselves, unapologetically commandeering a space.

"Crucible" by Linda Luise Brown. Images courtesy of the artist.
  • "Crucible" by Linda Luise Brown. Images courtesy of the artist.

Brown’s paintings churn with clear, brilliant colors layered with an assortment of bold strokes, delicate calligraphic marks and controlled drips. She begins by methodically priming her canvases with rabbit-skin glue and multiple layers of tinted oil primer and her works on paper with acrylic gesso before attacking the surface in a process she likens to automatic writing.

A few of the paintings have explicit landscape references. Others are more subtle, at first appearing like total abstractions, but on further examination revealing what might be pathways, vegetation and other recognizable forms. “Crucible,” a large (4.5 x 6 feet), luscious painting primed with old Italian colors and filled with movement and density, can keep a viewer occupied for quite a while, teasing out all manner of things — geological formations, some fairly amazing stuff spewing into the air, and perhaps a figure (and what the hell, maybe even a champagne glass or two).

"Sonar" by Linda Luise Brown.
  • "Sonar" by Linda Luise Brown.

In contrast to the big, bossy canvases are a few smaller (30 x 40 inch) and quieter works on paper. “Sonar,” which has an ethereal glow that can probably be attributed in part to its gold gesso primer, sports an alluring shape on the left that inspired the title.

While Brown’s painting process might appear spontaneous and effortless, it is fraught with risk. There’s a certain amount of courage in working this way — one screw-up and there goes the painting, because it’s difficult to paint out a mistake or cover it up when you’re working this thin.

Brown’s rich knowledge of art history is evident in these paintings — among others, you can detect whiffs of Kandinsky, Gorky and Matta. But whatever their influences, they are mostly about the transcendent pleasure of moving paint around a large surface.

— Barbara Schreiber

Linda Luise Brown’s Oil Spill: Large Oil Paintings runs through Sept. 30 at the Pease Gallery, Central Piedmont Community College. Reception for the artist, Sept. 7, 4 p.m.-6 p.m. For directions and maps, visit

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