Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Blue Hour

At Rosenfeld Gallery this month a show of Leslie Fenton’s works of paper, literally torn, wrinkled and opened and dyed and painted and soaked and handled and assembled into beautiful abstract paintings, shows what can be achieved in the inspiration of the imagination working with almost impossible tools.

If you place your hands on paper and work it by wonderful alterations, a real artist can summon from the scraps something magnificent, delicate, fierce, or watery. Ms. Fenton has made these materials into paintings that reflect the impossibility of their creation by appearing created by time and processes altogether natural and graceful.

A surgeon with the same hands would be highly sought after. This sensitivity to the tissue of sight is practiced on all the pieces in the show, but the one I most prize for its illusion of infinity, and the light of its title is The Blue Hour, a large work that deserves a longer life of exhibition, as might be found in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The Blue Hour is a term for the interval before dawn, when the sky begins to brighten and illuminate the world in a soft blue hue. People rising early would be known to appreciate it, and be familiar with its magic. This painting allows that experience in daylight, and gives forth the same benediction of a kind infinity returning us to earth from sleep and forgetting.

Some have spoken of a morning light in painting. This is an entirely extra territory. With this artist, night, the dark spaces in trees, the color of rock and sand and cloud, make up the world that hasn’t been covered enough. The work is palpable, synesthetic with a new sense, not bas relief, but very much reminding us that something slight and fragile makes up the orchestration of the cosmos.

Until October 4, 2009

Leslie Fenton
Mixed Media on Paper
Rosenfeld Gallery
113 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
215 922 1376