by Natasha Walter
Rosalux gallery is currently hosting the exhibit Vernissage: New Work from James Wrayge and Terrance Payne. The coupling of these seemingly disparate artists strikes an unusual, but imaginative balance.
James Wrayge is an abstract painter who believes that “Paintings don't have to tell stories, that’s what books are for.” He is influenced by his other life as a jazz musician and inspired by decaying city walls and rugged surfaces of nature. The most interesting aspect of his work is that at first glance it seems soothingly messy, but read the illuminating title and adjust to the enveloping mood, and a serious study of abstraction comes into focus.
Still, it’s a special kind of focus. For those of you with glasses, it's
sort of like taking off your necessary appendage and walking through a world
of blurry edges and semi-comprehensible shapes. Intriguingly, there is something
comforting in this. Wrayge paints with the magic combination of familiarity
“Twister,” for example, there is a turmoil that is initially dense
and confusing. It is a small painting characterized by warm yellows and blacks
scraped away to reveal shaky grays, while a vaguely funnel-like shape splits
the painting in two. On first sight I found myself struggling with the meaning
of the image, but smiled after reading the title: “Twister.” Suddenly
I entered into Wrayge’s world with a newfound clarity. I could see what
Wrayge saw—tides of shapes that come together to make what we call a tornado.
Terrance Payne’s work, on the other hand, is detailed. These large-scale
drawings are complemented by clever captions and possess the playful quality
of children’s illustrations. The subjects include unusual characters.
In “Most Birds are Hobos and Transients,” for example, a penguin
dressed in admiral attire victoriously gazes out into the distance as he stands
proudly atop a mansion-sized (relatively speaking) birdhouse. Above him, tied
up boxes float as though caught in motion, airborne objects being one of Payne's
signature features. Each piece highlights some sort of object that is oddly
suspended, giving the sense that the imagination is bursting like fireworks
behind the characters.
Another feature of Payne’s work is the jarring viewpoint he imposes. The
pictures are composed as though one were sitting in the grass and straining
to see the commotion high above. This omnipresent combination gives the work
a touch of the surreal—normally grounded objects hover in the air while
we gaze into a suddenly character-laden sky.
An odd couple, certainly, but once again Rosalux has hit the sweet spot with
its ability to curate a show of unusual combinations. Still, both artists certainly
share an uncommon vision of the world, a perspective you might come to appreciate—after
the shock wears off. ||
Vernissage: New Work from James Wrayge and Terrance Payne is on
display until Sept. 30 at Rosalux Gallery, 1011 Washington Ave., Mpls. 612-396-3947.
Hours are Tue.–Thu. noon–8 p.m.; Fri.–Sun. noon–5 p.m.