Post #945 • January 25, 2007, 9:26 AM • 17 Comments
My last trip to Newbury Street proved productive. In addition to the Anthony Falcetta work up at Judi Rotenberg, Nielsen Gallery down the street had some intriguing paintings by Jane Smaldone, who turns out to live in my neighborhood here in Boston, and Sachiko Akiyama, another local. Awkward, but awkward to their credit, Smaldone's portraits and still lifes convey a Balthusian weirdness, incorporating Asian motifs with charming artificiality. Even with mostly straightforward subject matter, a surrealist frisson hangs in their atmosphere. This is especially the case in the still lifes, in which the perspective strains a little and the flowers, looming in front of backgrounds inspired by Chinese landscape paintings, turn to face the viewer like the eyes of aliens. Akiyama's figure sculptures and portrait heads, many depicting her actual or implied self in painted wood, show dignity and command. While obviously contemporary, they evoke Egyptian memorial statuary in their positioning, expressing modest, timeless seriousness. Handsomely neutral colors, thinly applied, reinforce their introspective mood.
By the way, this may be one of the best gallery websites I've ever seen: clean, functional, dense with information, and no dancing baloney.