“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.