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Minimal Interference

Two stirring exhibits explore the art of simplicity at Reynolds.

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Simplicity can often be thought of as lacking the depth needed for a grander purpose in art. Movements withheld and processes pared down to the necessary offer — not slim options of experience — but concentrated visions of the real and now. In concurrent shows at Reynolds Gallery, artists Richard Tuttle and Cindy Neuschwander reach out to the audience in a paradox of simplicity and complex conceptual physicality.

 

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Cindy Neuschwander's “Split.”

In Neuschwander's exhibit, “Pulling the Line,” the Richmond-based artist explores the simple power of the line. Her mixed media on paper uses minimalism as a point of aesthetic, and abstract expressionism as a means. Her expressionistic use of movement produces raw black lines against the white surface that gives an illusion of uncontrived carving across the paper. In a single motion she attains depth, movement, distinction and narrative — whether in a figurative or literal sense. In her work, such as the piece “Split,” there's a feeling of immediacy. Her use of sketching as an artistic stroke reveals a fractured plane of existence and a connection to how straightforward — and fleeting — beauty can be.

Comparatively, Richard Tuttle's series of work, “Metal Shoes,” maintains the strength in post-minimalism that he's shown throughout his long career. This is the same Tuttle who was the minimalist darling of the now-legendary collectors and benefactors Herbert and Dorothy Vogel (it was his work, among thousands of other pieces from now-famous artists, that made up the lion's share of the Vogels' collection). Even in Tuttle's early pieces, he showed the ability to produce stirring art with the fewest of elements that balanced the visual appeal of the work with the overall conceptual design.

At Reynolds, the colors of his work are as subtle as their application on white space — very few pieces contain more image than background. Through repetition, he returns to the essence of each piece, asking the viewer to consider again the relationship of very identifiable formal elements. While the application of geometric shapes, fine detailed lines and swatches of color gives the viewer an immediate sense of visual pleasure, it's his use of copper-plate embossment that makes the difference. Tuttle has embossed many of the prints through the forceful hammering of copper plates and the resulting shapes hold up, contain or cut his surface images. This embossing of the white prints is so subtle as to almost avoid recognition. 

Upon close study, as if continually disappearing from existence, these forced impressions remain muted. While the copper marks might be the least attentive of each piece in the series, they're by far the most necessary for these works to transcend the visual horizon from object to thought.

In short, the works of Tuttle and Neuschwander on display begin with the least and end with infinite conclusions. S

“Metal Shoes,” a series by Richard Tuttle, and “Pulling the Line,” works by Cindy Neuschwander, are on display at Reynolds Gallery, 1514 W. Main St., until March 19. For information call 355-6553 or go to reynoldsgallery.com.

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