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Review: Phantom Vibration

D. Eric Bookhardt on Brian Guidry's paintings at Good Children Gallery

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There is something mysterious about Brian Guidry's abstract paintings. Most of the abstract art we encounter is associated with modernist ideas, but Guidy's paintings contain hints of things ancient, or at least antique, which couldn't be more different from the existential gravitas of abstract expressionism, the sardonic aura of pop or the industrial bluntness of minimalism. What sets the Lafayette-based, New Iberia native's paintings apart from traditional abstraction is their atmospheric patina, a somewhat hazy quality that creates an illusion of depth that is more typical of Renaissance art than anything associated with modernism. That hazy technique, known to art historians as sfumato, was employed by artists like Leonardo da Vinci to make their subjects either stand out or recede as needed, but it does not come easily; the paint must be meticulously applied in multiple thin layers over time to get the job done.

  The mystical geometry of the title piece, Phantom Vibrations, is enhanced by an atmospheric aura normally associated with da Vinci-era landscapes, and if that sounds surprising, it may help to know where he gets his subtly vibrant colors. Guidry says they are "sampled from the landscape in South Louisiana; reflections from water, menacing storm clouds and September's exhausted foliage are among the sources I reference." Yet works like Oxizion (pictured) might just as easily harken to those Native American peyote cults whose visions of misty mountains and stark deserts suggest cryptic diagrams of nature's secrets. Visionary geometry exists in Louisiana as well; if you have ever spent time in the swamps you may have noticed the way palmetto fronds slice the brilliant light into angular wedges of radiance. The power of nature is universal, and Guidry says his approach taps into the "forces and processes that produce and control the phenomena of the material world." In that sense his paintings are places where inner and outer realities merge into geometric vistas where color becomes energy and shapes "suggest portals and slips in time and space." — D. ERIC BOOKHARDT

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