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Big Talk, Small Bites

He’s a spellbinder, this David Dunlop, a talker, a painter, a whipper up of ideas about art, science and our psyches. His audience at The White Gallery, Saturday, took in wave after wave of Dunlop observations, tripping from 12th-century icons through Rembrandt, Cole, Picasso and Agnes Martin, artists who knew to distill images to their sharpest meaning. In the 1880s, he told us, a painter was expected to imitate nature (which is why one artist who took to slopping buckets of paint across his canvasses failed to capture the enthusiasm that Jackson Pollack did 60 or so years later).

    But now artists paint for art’s sake. “Art nibbles away at the edges of convention,†Dunlop likes to say. “Artists like to stand outside, but not too far outside.†Which is why successful painters take small bites, like Dunlop, rather than tear into alien territory, employing ideas and techniques that people are not ready for.

   “You have to find a balance between boredom and confusion,†between the commonplace and the incomprehensible.    

   His paintings these days, on view at The White Gallery through August, are moody, atmospheric, trembling with light and pigment. The urban images, one of them in collaboration with his son, Max, take low-angle views of city places, slick, spooky, sometimes abstract and all peopled ­— most of them walking, backs turned. His landscapes are different: untroubled, sunny, and extravagantly verdant. All of the work here is masterful, of course, with sublime surfaces created by oil on dibond aluminum.

 

 The White Gallery is at 342 Main St., in Lakeville, CT. 860-435-1029; www.thewhitegalleryart.com

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