Fort Worth Community Arts Center
Vincent Falsetta, Linda Guy, Peter Cuong Nguyen and Kent Rush make images as if each artist is the odd-man-out, so putting two roomfuls of their work together is a risky venture. No matter how idiosyncratic each artist is on their own, as a quartet they can either play to the viewer’s tendency to group and classify—and, ultimately, to find common threads between them—or they may simply fall into chaos.
Vincent Falsetta’s paintings feel like objects rather than images; the artist puts line before color. His works shimmer like fine silk moiré, which uses weave and nap to energize sheen. Filling canvas with a candent orange as if in one, stuttering stroke, Falsetta’s BN 03-2 waves from one side of the plane to the other, leaving behind spots of black in an apparent nod to Op Art. Oil paint floods the rest of the space, electrifying the point where color and line meet. Though low-contrast (red waves on a red-orange surface), BN03-2 glows just as much as CC 04-4, which is a chromatograph with bits of flotsam in green, blue and red atop a radiant yellow. In these works, Falsetta alludes to paint’s plasticity, but he is a magician. In the end, he never reveals his secrets.
Linda Guy, Uncertain Origins Series #2, 2004
Mixed media on canvas
40 x 40 inches
On the other hand, Linda Guy’s mixed-media works leave bare the layered process it took to create them. Using photographs, scans of her drawings and paintings, as well as found images, Guy creates her base images on the computer. After printing each assemblage on inkjet paper or canvas, she begins her “hybrid paintings.”
From the enlarged image of a computer circuit board, Guy built a four-part series. H.D. 3 contains figurative gestures in a set that otherwise juxtaposes oblique organic references with the mechanical. H.D. 1 superimposes circles with melting edges onto a circuit-board background. By the time the viewer reaches H.D. 4, the circles have not only burned completely through the board, but have become something fleshy and monstrous.
Similarly, Guy’s Uncertain Origins series settles on circles to unite the living and the artificial. The color families of orange and blue in Uncertain Origins No. 1 and Uncertain Origins No. 2 appear to hemorrhage. By the time the viewer reaches Uncertain Origins No. 3 and 4, carnage has overtaken the relationship between foreground and background. Likewise, in Horology No. 1 and Horology No. 2, marches relentlessly through the disintegration process with hard, circular outlines inspired by drawings of the planets.
Peter Cuong Nguyen, Circular Outbound, 2005
Acrylic on canvas
48 x 55 x 2 1/2 inches
Peter Cuong Nguyen’s oil and acrylic paintings seem celestial at times as well and the painting Pulse, particularly so. By emulsifying two incompatible mediums—oils and acrylics—he electrifies the photographlike contrast of a black-and-white palette. The simple form of Pulse makes simultaneous reference to the energy packed inside cells and an object floating in outer space. By linking the celestial and cellular, black and white, thick and thin, positive and negative, inside and outside, Nguyen sums up dualities that have been art’s obsession over the past few decades.
Kent Rush, Untitled, 1999–2005
Silver-gelatin photograph on paper
4 x 4 feet
Kent Rush’s large-scale, grainy photographs begin with a low-tech point of view. Working with black and white film through the lens of an unsophisticated camera, he often aims toward concrete and asphalt for added texture. The resulting haze is hardly romantic, although just as obfuscating as love’s rose-colored glasses. The fuzzy focus of Floresville Drain takes the viewer deep into the stuff of nightmares, while the lone pile of discarded concrete and rock in Indianola Plug introduces a theme of isolation into the mix. Only the chiaroscuro of Galaxy Quest steps out of a neo-expressionist mode, highlighting the unexpected sparkles emitting from a flattened speed bump.
Curator Rachel Bounds placed Rush’s black-and-white work opposite Falsetta’s colorful waves, and Nguyen’s paintings opposite Guy’s hybrids. This grouping seems anomalous at first. Yet, by gently coaxing the viewer away from color and form and toward other, more conceptual and overlapping ideas, Bounds offers us a chance to sort and classify in new ways, as if these artists stand with one foot in each other’s work. Rush perches squarely upon the inarticulate just as Falsetta relishes the space between line and color. Nguyen populates canvas as if the heavens and atoms are one, much like just as Guy, who grows living things from the artificial. The work of each artist may seem an anomaly, yet they cannot help but share certain qualities of otherness.