Everywhere a Sign

Terrell James' paintings don't suffer from contemporary art's usual faux profundity

Rittase's photographs celebrating Depression-era workers and industry are subtly deceptive. At first glance, the work is stylish and Sheeleresque, all ground-level views and sharp, oblique angles, looking up at industry literally as well as figuratively. But what you're actually seeing are highly manipulated images having little to do with "reality." Those perfect cotton-candy clouds against which the industrial shovel stands out? Sheer illusion; the exact same clouds reappear over and again in Rittase's work. His art is the product of another great piece of machinery, the enlarger. By combining prints and using photograms, he turned reality into abstraction, and the rarest form of abstraction, at that: interesting abstraction.

The other small miracle in this show consists of two photographs by Carlotta Corpron. From the '30s until the late '60s, Corpron taught art history, design and photography at, of all places, Texas Woman's University. For a brief period during the '40s, she worked as an assistant for the famous art photographer Laszlo Moholy-Nagy; still later she worked with Moholy-Nagy's associate, the painter, designer, photographer and theorist Gyorgy Kepes, whom Corpron once described as "the only influence on my work."

No less important a figure than Alfred Stieglitz once said that Corpron's photographs "changed the way he saw the world." Unfortunately, Stieglitz died the next year, and so Corpron remained virtually undiscovered. The two photographs at PDNB are seminal works that literally define phases of her experiments with light and form. Both are sensuous pictures in which everyday objects take on an abstract, even surreal quality. The first and most handsome, "Light Follows Form," examines the effect of light filtered through venetian blinds on undulating surfaces. The second, "Eggs Reflected and Multiplied," is from her "space compositions" series, a group of works devoted to investigating how light creates illusions of depth. The title pretty well sums up the subject of this work, which she considered among her best--which, for her, meant most original--work.

"Red August," one of Terrell James' canvases now on view at Pillsbury and Peters Fine Art
George Hixon
"Red August," one of Terrell James' canvases now on view at Pillsbury and Peters Fine Art

Details

Impression and Sensation by Terrell James runs through September 1 at Pillsbury and Peters Fine Art. Call 214-969-9410.

New Acquisitions, works by more than 10 artists including William Rittase and Carlotta Corpron, are on display through August 25 at Photographs Do Not Bend. Call 214-969-1852.

Under, an exhibition of work by Kimberly Squaglia, Derrick Saunders, Jin-Ya Huang and Robert Hamilton, runs through August 18 at Mulcahy Modern Gallery. Call 214-948-9595.

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Dallas photographer Jin-Ha Huang's work, now part of a group show at Mulcahy Modern Gallery, is very much in the spirit of Corpron's experiments with light. Huang, at twentysomething a baby artist, does totally abstract photos of--well, what? Blurred water droplets on some unidentifiable surface, or clouds, or maybe some distant galaxy. The quality that saves Huang's work from the slag heap of artsy-fartsy abstract photographic meditations on who-knows-what is her tones. The work is printed on aluminum, and the results are luscious. It will be interesting to see whether she can marry interesting subject matter to this promising medium.

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