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Akron Art Museum opens 'Beauty Reigns: A Baroque Sensibility in Recent Painting'
Charles Burwell, Dialogue in Blue 2013. Acrylic on canvas, 90 x 128 in. Courtesy of the artist and Bridgette Mayer Gallery, Philadelphia.

AKRON, OH.- Rich color, luscious surfaces, intricate patterning and dynamic compositions characterize “Beauty Reigns,” an exhibition celebrating abstract art today. With its commitment to contemporary art, the Akron Art Museum showcases the exoticism, exuberance and optimism found in the work of 13 painters working in studios across the United States. The exhibition, which is on view in from Jan. 24, 2015 to May 3, 2015, is designed to give viewers visual pleasure, with the artists each offering different approaches to and ideas about beauty.

“’Beauty Reigns’ offers an exciting opportunity for us to spark visitors’ imagination with ambitious paintings and installations by emerging and mid-career artists whose work is diverse, yet shares a sensibility,” comments Akron Art Museum Chief Curator Janice Driesbach. “Many of the artists featured will be new to our visitors, and their elaborate compositions reward close viewing.”

Included in “Beauty Reigns” are artists whose experiences in other countries inform their work. Brazilian Beatriz Milhazes uses the sun, pearls, roses and spheres to create “a big fantasy-filled world picture.” Kamrooz Aram, born in Iran, draws inspiration from flags and Persian rug patterns. South Korea native Jiha Moon fuses her Eastern origins and Western life in art works that combine figuration with abstraction. Susan Chrysler White, whose dense compositions allude to the “fracturing and rebuilding of connections,” was fascinated by Antonio Gaudi’s architecture as a child in Spain. The vigorous brushwork used by Nancy Lorenz, who lived in Tokyo as a teenager, references Japanese aesthetics and abstract expressionism.

A number of the artworks in on view are assembled from an elaborate array of materials. Jose Alvarez (D.O.P.A.) adorns monumental digital prints with enamel, ink, organdy, feathers, quills and crystals. Fausto Fernandez’s dense collages incorporate architectural plans, maps, acrylic, oil pastel and spray paint toward creating “metaphors for human interaction.”

Layering of surface imagery is another approach shared by artists in “Beauty Reigns.” Rex Ray assembles painted and printed papers into intricate collages that “interweave fanciful forms.” Ryan McGinness overlays stylized human figures, abstract forms, logos and symbols to create dizzying patterns and a sense of deep space.

Other artists construct compositions using acrylic or oil paint to very different effect. Striped organic and geometric forms cover Charles Burwell’s canvases, and the shapes that float across Annette Davidek’s paintings are derived from flowers, coral, branches, chromosomes, blood vessels and algae. Interior design and art history inspire Roslyn Schwartz’s juxtapositions of representational and abstract images with decorative patterns. Paul Henry Ramirez’s playful designs are enriched by the elegant installation the artist created in the museum galleries, providing visitors with an immersive experience.

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