Flamboyant Still Life
When the galleries in New York City reopen there will be a beautiful exhibition to visit— Sally Brody: A Personal View. In the meantime, here are some of her paintings.
New Year by Sally Brody
Sally Brody’s paintings would be classified as “Still L ife”. But they are so much more! They have the quiet contemplation of a Giorgio Morandi with their line-up of objects described by simplified forms, but their color, which is dramatic, even Fauvist, is lively. She also divides her compositional space into segments which reinforce the outlines of vessels and plants. Often, I think of Cezanne and even Matisse as Brody seems more intent with providing an interesting and interconnected arrangement than a description of three- dimensional space. And this makes her a very revolutionary painter of an art historical tradition.
Cat Tails by Sally Brody
In Cat Tails the bottom of the canvas serves as the base, more like a cut-off point, for two containers. On the left is a pot whose lip is all I see to define it, holding cattails. On the right a green vase with blue, petunia-like flowers. The background is a series of wavy-edged shapes running from yellow-orange to yellow to orange. The very warm, lighter value of the background against the cooler, darker colors of flower subjects causes a “reversal”. (What I mean by this is that in color theory, warm and lighter value colors in a composition advance while cool colors recede. An example of a “color reversal” is Gainsborough’s Boy Boy.) The sheer size of the background areas should overtake the smaller regions of the plant and container sections. Instead they keep everything frontal, on the picture plane, and focus our eyes on the separate plants and the curliness of their shape and texture. The painting glows with warmth,
Four by Sally Brody
In Four we are presented with a horizontal queue of three bulbous- and one column-shaped vessels. I am aware of the roundness and the verticality of each individual item fitted across a horizontal field. The change and break of the field behind each item is slightly askew. It makes me aware of the blink of my eye as I look from one to the next to the next to the next, thus introducing the element of time. A nice trick.
This element of time is also true of the exhibition. As I move from one square composition to a tall vertical to a stretch of horizontal composition, I am delighted in the variety of ways Brody has found of shifting the grounds and the objects. Each particular. Each unique. Each straining as Spring Flowers or choppy as Goldfixh or sliding as New Year . (See image at top.) You recognize every shape for the feature it is and the role that it plays. You follow from a small, red pitcher to a large blue pot with an overhang of red and green flowers in Blue Pot. Additionally, I notice that many of the main figures, all a solid hue, are
Summer Flowers by Sally Brody
outlined in a contrasting shade. This not only brings clarity to the figure but causes what Cezanne called “modulation”. The brownish, orangy-red of the pitcher in the foreground has a pinkish outline separating it from the lighter value blues it sits against. The large bright blue vase is outlined in a darker blue next to an area of light orange and de-saturated gray and green. Each of these color moves make the vessel shapes more attractive and energized. The grays and greens are also a perfect foil for the greens, yellows, and vermillion. This is a technique used by Post-Impressionists like Cezanne,
Blue Pot by Sally Brody
van Gogh, and Matisse. The inclusion of leaves to plants disconnected from any of the structures present (yet are perfectly suitable to the composition) also makes me think of Matisse. Other paintings like Yellow Pitcher, Yellow Pot, and Summer Flowers have this hovering of flora as well.
Every composition in this exhibition is a new comparison of light and color and texture spread across a surface. Sally Brody through an investigation of the still life tradition in color brings us some wonderful surprises. Watch the video of her exhibition and find out more about her work by clicking here:
Sally Brody: A Personal View at Atlantic Gallery
Sally Brody's web site https://sallybrody.com/