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Two Very Different Kinds of Abstraction

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Sam Cornish reviews two exhibitions that might represent poles of abstract painting: Arturo Bonfanti: Paintings, Reliefs and Sculpture 1960-1972, at Austin Desmond and Frank Bowling: Recent Paintings at Hales Gallery, both on view through July 27, 2012.

Of Bonfanti's work, Cornish writes that "One of the interesting ways in which they fight against being simply tasteful or decorative arrangements is the sense some have of being made from occlusions and omissions as much as from direct and wholly visible assertions, so that they appear deconstructed as much as constructed." Of Bowling's: "what struck me about the paintings was the frequent appearance of a just submerged symbolic imagery… most particularly in the repeated statement of a heroic upright. However the 70s paintings are tight, formal and so restrict an associative reading, whereas those at Hales billow and find associations with weather (storms and tempests) and with more directly figurative spaces. A few of the recent paintings seem to stage a specifically Christian imagery…"

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