Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Arts Review for Jack Boul: Monotypes and Paintings

Cafe, monotype, 2009

The works of celebrated Washington artist Jack Boul are featured in Monotypes and Paintings, the 2010 solo invitational artist exhibition at the Washington Printmaker’s Gallery from January 3 to January 31.

Boul’s wide range of subjects, as well as his monoprinting and painting techniques, all share his same artistic aesthetic. Most of the work illustrates natural and everyday subject matter, such as, the innate movement and postures of the body, daily actions in a home’s intimate settings, and the color gradations that occur in a country landscape. These images are conveyed in thick sweeping lines and minimalist brushwork, however, his images are hardly plain or simple.

Detail, in the form of wrinkles, finger smudges, and color gradation hide within his thick black lines and blots, adding unexpected texture to his work. Many of his pieces appear as though band-aids were been placed on various parts of their surface and then ripped off. The result is a rustic, unpolished affect, that adds to the atmospheric and emotional quality of his work. These tiny imperfections also let the viewer know the great involvement and attention paid to each unique piece. It is obvious that the artist’s relationship to his work was a very close one.

The way he defines shapes in his images is unusual as well. His bold, dark lines leave abstract shapes of negative space that cause the eye to “work”-searching and forming figures and their postures or body movements. Bodies emerge from muddled blots of paint or are defined with the faintest outlines, barely decipherable from the white background. His paints bleed and run, as if watercolors, but there is surprisingly crisp quality to the images, which makes one wonder-what am I looking at? A painting, a photograph, or a charcoal drawing?

Boul's painted work, much of it in color, is impressionistic in its hazy and vibrant quality, and shares the romantic characteristics of his prints. Large brush strokes and dabs of color capture the essence of landscape. A few of his images include details of cows, or the peaceful resting face of a small child, reflecting his occasional appreciation for detail.

Boul’s unusual technique adds character and edge to the content of his pieces. His approach to his subjects also offers a fascinating perspective on portraiture. His detailed and color pieces reflect the multi-dimensional nature of his work and his talent as a long practicing DC artist.

Claire Menegus is a native Washingtonian who recently returned to the area after working for a photography magazine in London. She is currently a public relations intern at the Washington Project for the Arts.

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