CLOAR

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - ARTS -

“I Will Have to Tell You Ev­ery­thing,” says the ti­tle of Ham­lett Dob­bins’ exhibition of re­cent work at David Lusk Gallery, and the artist pro­ceeds to do so in a group of splashy, dy­namic, in­ven­tive and down­right gor­geous ab­stract paint­ings. Th­ese 13 pieces ra­di­ate a kind of di­vine en­ergy of cre­ativ­ity, imag­i­na­tion and wit as they peer into realms both mi­cro­scopic and cos­mic in depth and breadth. The show will be on dis­play through Oct. 8.

Dob­bins’ work is so con­vinc­ing, so con­fi­dent and au­thor­i­ta­tive that one hardly thinks of the paint­ings as ab­stract. They seem, in­stead, to be tran­scrip­tions of the thought pro­cesses of a deeply med­i­ta­tive and ju­bi­lant mind whose un­con­scious is al­lowed to pen­e­trate into and play freely with the pos­si­bil­i­ties of color, shape and pat­tern, tex­ture and sur­face. Not that the pieces are not enig­matic and her­metic, not that they don’t re­sist in­ter­pre­ta­tion, but not com­pletely. “Con­tent is tiny, very tiny, a glimpse,” said Willem de Koon­ing, one of the great­est of all ab­stract painters; Dob­bins of­fers glimpses aplenty in th­ese highly an­i­mated and lyri­cal map­pings.

The artist con­tin­ues his habit of leav­ing the work un­ti­tled, while ap­pend­ing, within paren­the­ses, ded­i­ca­tions to peo­ple in­di­cated only by ini­tials, as in “Un­ti­tled (for F.G.T/E.R.S./C.M.C.),” a large piece as it hap­pens of supreme vir­tu­os­ity and blithe spon­tane­ity. Such a de­vice lends the paint­ings auras both de­tached and in­ti­mate. We are left on our own as to po­ten­tial mean­ing or even lack of mean­ing, as we si­mul­ta­ne­ously feel priv­i­leged to wit­ness an act of friend­ship. And when I used the word “au­thor­i­ta­tive” $25,000 for the best paint­ings and about $3,000 for draw­ings, those fig­ures have es­ca­lated to three times that now.

“There is great de­mand,” Lusk said, “es­pe­cially for older paint­ings. We’re see­ing prices in the high five dig­its and oc­ca­sion­ally Through Oct. 8 at David Lusk Gallery, 97 Till­man St. Call 901-767-3800, or visit david­luskgallery.com.

the low six fig­ures. Draw­ings are usu­ally about $3,000 to $12,000, depend­ing on age and con­di­tion.”

Cloar’s pen­cil sketches on pa­per were not so much prepara­tory draw­ings as trac­ings whose lines in­di­cated the place­ment of build­ings, fig­ures, ob­jects and land­scape el­e­ments for the paint­ings. Since a draw­ing ex­ists for al­most ev­ery paint­ing, and since the sup­ply of paint­ings is fi­nite in the pre­vi­ous para­graph, it was not in­tended to in­di­cate any­thing rig­or­ous or di­dac­tic. Th­ese paint­ings, rather, are im­bued with the ca­pac­ity for in­trigue, de­light­ful mys­tery, provo­ca­tion and joy.

Telling us ev­ery­thing im­plies a cer­tain lo­qua­cious­ness, the artist as blab­ber­mouth and seer, and it’s true that there’s noth­ing la­conic or sub­tle about th­ese paint­ings. Dob­bins goes for the vis­ceral re­ac­tion in terms of our vis­ual ori­en­ta­tion. Pieces like “Un­ti­tled (For I.V./C.B.)” and “Un­ti­tled (For T.J.K./K.D.B./ W.D.)” prac­ti­cally vi­brate on the wall in their Day-glo hues and vig­or­ous mark­ings, barely con­tain­ing their force fields within the rec­tan­gles of their edges. “Telling” also hints at des­ig­na­tion, sig­ni­fi­ca­tion and count­ing, a bent that refers to a more re­cent de­vel­op­ment in the artist’s work, the in­clu­sion of let­ters, num­bers and words

in the paint­ings.

We see th­ese oc­cur­rences pri­mar­ily in three pieces that in­cor­po­rate the al­pha­bet, all low­er­case let­ters, the num­bers from 1 to 100, and, in one in­stance, the god­like word “jupiter,” again low­er­case. In the begin­ning was the Word, we are told, but the word and all words are com­posed of let­ters, just as all nu­mer­i­cal units are com­posed of sep­a­rate num­bers. Dob­bins writes th­ese let­ters and num­bers rather crudely, with a sense of ra­pid­ity, yet the very ca­su­al­ness of their scrib­bling, as if they were graf­fiti on an old brick wall, of­fers a feel­ing of in­di­vid­ual, mag­i­cal power. In sev­eral places, the num­bers and let­ters segue into cryptic cal­li­graphic sym­bols of am­bigu­ous im­port. Here the artist cre­ates his own lan­guage, as he does, re­ally, in all his paint­ings, telling us ev­ery­thing, telling us noth­ing, grace­fully, el­e­gantly, sweetly.

and mostly spo­ken for, the draw­ings of­fer the op­por­tu­nity for col­lec­tors to ac­quire a work by Cloar with­out ex­pend­ing, as Lusk said, “high five dig­its.”

A gallery ded­i­cated to this pop­u­lar and es­sen­tial artist was an idea whose time was per­ti­nent and ap­pro­pri­ate, Thomas said. “Cloar’s ap­peal is broader than ever. There’s re­ally a need, a de­mand, that his work be seen.”

Play­house on the Square moves into the realm of spec­u­la­tive fic­tion with the pro­duc­tion of “King Charles III,” a Shake­spearean-fla­vored study of democ­racy, roy­alty and des­tiny.

The crit­i­cally ac­claimed play, win­ner of the pres­ti­gious Olivier Award last year, closed on Broad­way ear­lier this year, and the Play­house re­gional pre­miere is among the first around the coun­try.

The story imag­ines what might hap­pen when Prince Charles as­cends to the throne of Eng­land, sur­rounded by his wife, Camilla, his two sons and daugh­ter-in-law and a Par­lia­ment un­ac­cus­tomed to royal in­ter­fer­ence in this con­tem­po­rary age. A cri­sis be­gins when the new monarch is asked to give royal assent to a law just passed by Par­lia­ment, an ac­tion that is typ­i­cally rou­tine.

But the law re­strict­ing free­dom of the press is con­tro­ver­sial, and Charles has his doubts. He de­clines to en­dorse the bill and dis­solves Par­lia­ment, throw­ing the coun­try into tur­moil. Mean­while, Prince Harry has be­come smit­ten with a com­moner, the ghost of Princess Diana ap­pears (told you it was Shake­spearean), and Prince Wil­liam is mak­ing plans along with his cal­cu­lat­ing wife, the Duchess of Cam­bridge.

The role of Charles is un­de­ni­ably a plum part, and it’s gone to Jim France, a stage and screen ac­tor who is nat­u­rally de­lighted to make his de­but at Play­house in this pro­duc­tion.

“When I read the play, I knew right away it was an iconic role,” he says. “But I made a de­ci­sion that I was not go­ing to im­i­tate Prince Charles. That would be a big mis­take, pri­mar­ily be­cause I’m not an im­pres­sion­ist, and even if I were, it

Ham­lett Dob­bins, “Un­ti­tled (for F.G.T./ E.R.S./C.M.C.),” 60-by-72 inches, acrylic on can­vas, 2016. From “I Will Have to Tell You Ev­ery­thing,” at David Lusk Gallery.

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