April in the galleries: Order, chaos and the fantastic

04/17/2014 1:45 PM

04/17/2014 2:41 PM

‘Max Bill’

At the Bechtler Museum, all attention is on the impressive “Mario Botta: Architecture and Memory.” But when you visit, check out this intimate exhibition on the second floor.

The show is mysteriously devoid of wall text, so here’s a little bit of background: Bill – who, like many artists in the museum’s collection, had a close relationship with Hans and Bessie Bechtler – was an architect, engineer, city planner, color theorist, fine artist, teacher, writer and more. He was considered one of Switzerland’s most important post-World War II artists.

This exhibition includes works on paper and small sculptures, but the standouts are prints that, even though they are rooted in the rigors of color theory and mathematics, exude great warmth.

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art; bechtler.org; 704-353-9200; through Sept. 29.

‘Miasma’

Asheville-based artist Brian Mashburn creates glossy oil-on-canvas paintings in which the urban landscape is choked with an undefined fog. What happened to these cities is not entirely clear – was it a cataclysmic event or grinding decay? – but the sense of alienation is palpable.

Most of these paintings are staged similarly: In the foreground are one or a few figures, while overhead are birds of prey or the occasional plane. In between lies desolation – abandoned spires, silos and observation towers; tangled vines and wires; and silhouetted trees that look like they’re straight out of a Caspar David Friedrich painting.

Although filled with despair, these are beautiful paintings, executed in loving detail.

Waterworks Visual Arts Center, Salisbury; waterworks.org; 704-636-1882; through May 17.

‘Past Perfect’

San Francisco artist Kirsten Tradowsky makes paintings of items found on Craigslist – tender, earnest depictions of objects that once were valued but are now forsaken, their owners bored with them, dead or in need of money. Together, these paintings of dishes, puzzles, recreation equipment and other objects constitute a catalog of abandoned dreams.

The centerpiece of the show is “Reunion.” In this mirror-image diptych, crystal swan candy dishes, decorative boxes, pitchers and other sentimental doodads are arrayed on a table in a way that resembles a display of wedding gifts. But this coming together is really a taking apart, a final gathering of once-cherished items that will be dispersed forever.

Pease Gallery, Central Piedmont Community College; blogs.cpcc.edu/cpccartgalleries/current-exhibitions; 704-330-6211; through July 3.

‘Cuba: Art of the Fantastic’

The complexities of Cuban life and culture are interpreted and expressed through vivid, intense paintings and drawings.

Juan Carlos Verdial and Alicia de la Campa Pak both honor the power of women, but through wildly different perspectives: Verdial’s women, some of whom are sea creatures, are fearsomely erotic, while Pak’s woman have a quiet otherworldliness. Alexander González, whose influences range from comics to religions, creates paintings that have an unnerving, hallucinatory beauty.

Vicente Hernández’s work is inspired by his hometown, a once charming harbor village that, having fallen victim to economic and natural disaster, was torn apart, its wooden buildings dismantled to build rafts. In these roiling, frightening works, cities are completely unmoored, rising from the ground as if in mid-earthquake or transformed into airships and barges, buffeted by waves and violent weather.

LaCa Projects; lacaprojects.com; 704-609-8487; through May 2.

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