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Painter Adrian Deckbar's "Immersion" on view at Callan Contemporary in New Orleans
Installation view of Adrian Deckbar's exhibition at Callan Contemporary. Photo: Courtesy Callan Contemporary

NEW ORLEANS, LA.- Adrian Deckbar’s Immersion invites viewers on a literal and metaphoric voyage into the shallows of the Louisiana swamp and the depths of the human soul. In this series of nine paintings, she casts her gaze onto the surface of water flecked with leaves and lily pads, twigs and duckweed, reflecting the sky and trees overhead with a flowing buoyancy that alludes to dreams and the subconscious. Much of the imagery comes from a springtime expedition Deckbar made with her husband, photographer Mike Smith, into a swamp off Lake Maurepas. Rowing through the wetlands in a flat-bottomed pirogue, the pair photographed eerily beautiful waterscapes in golden, late-day light.

“About an hour before the sun goes down,” Deckbar remarks, “there’s an optic phenomenon that doesn’t happen in the middle of the day. Complementary colors start appearing, and you get these amazing red-violets and oranges on the green leaves...” The photos served as points of departure for an improvisational composing and painting process, wherein Deckbar used specialized Australian paints to layer textures and heighten the liquidic, floating quality of the subject matter.

A native New Orleanian, Deckbar has earned prestigious grants from the Pollock- Krasner Foundation and the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation. Her work, featured in more than 50 solo and group exhibitions around the world, features prominently in museum, corporate, and private collections. The paintings capture both the diversity and duality of the natural world and have a special appeal to collectors with a passion for nature and the environment. “Nature can be beautiful and alluring,” the artist observes, “but it can also be threatening and mysterious. I want to communicate all of those qualities and convey a feeling that is more than just a pretty picture.”

Indeed, as complex and transfixing as they are to the eye, the paintings in Immersion emanate a poetic, incantational allure that extends beyond the purely visual. To look deeply into them is to hear the chirping of crickets and the sloshing of lazy water; to feel sunrays and sultry air on your skin; and to smell the bittersweet exhalations of subtropical plants in every stage from bloom to decay. With technical virtuosity and a profound empathy, Adrian Deckbar transports us into a dappled, rippling, magical world.

Callan Contemporary hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 am-5 pm.

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