Arts » Visual Arts

Review: Nhat Tran's 'Unveiled Layers'



4.5 stars

Eric Dean Gallery, Randolph H. Deer Fine Arts Wing, Wabash College, 410 Wabash Ave., Crawfordsville; through April 8.

An aura of lightness envelopes Nhat Tran's new work created during and following her recent study of Japanese urushi at Tokyo University of Arts. Five sculptures of layered lacquer upon molded cloth represent Tran's re-interpretation of Urashi Kanshitsu. "Experiment in Verification/Experiment in Falsification," (2011) a dual wall hanging of floating blues on copper/copper with blue, takes her work into an even freer dimension from her installation at the Indianapolis Airport and her signature "Carpe Momentum" (2002).

"Unrelated Existence" and "Primitive Invitation," small sculpted layers of lacquer on fabric mounted on pedestals, also emulate weightlessness.

"Rabbiting" (2011) with golds on fabric conjures hopping in contrast with her "Inclination to Believe" (2004) urushi on extruded polystyrene work with its feel of drawing into itself a rainbow spectrum.

Tran's 2010 series of urushi lacquer on wooden board placed free floating within frames equally allows imagery of movement. "Evolution of Unconsciousness" at first glance seems dark and forbidding, but a second look draws you into its smooth surface like looking into a deep pool with faces emerging and bodies floating. "A Nonsensical Affection" equally requires careful inspection. Following along its copper layerings from left to right, there is a conjuring of action — perhaps a leopard leaping toward a sunlit pool? "Secretly" is a bright enigmatic rainbow splash.

These newest pieces are surrounded by a retrospective of Tran's work since 2002, offering an evolution of her constant search for new expressions within an ancient technique.

Gallery Hours: Monday–Friday 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

Also on exhibit at Wabash's Eric Dean Gallery

Orie Shafer's colorful, energy-filled hybrid paintings combine digital technology with the materials and methodology of traditional art. Shafer's abstract work has a sense of landscape. His initial complex images originate as small glimpses from digital macro photographs, which provide the matrix for freehand application of oils, colored pencils and oil pastels. These small hybrid paintings are then redigitized for enlargement and overpainting again and again to produce large scale canvases.


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