Intense ornamentation and pattern are much of the focus of “Luminous,” a group show featuring three local artists — Lela Brunet, Sam Parker and Greg Noblin — at Kai Lin Art.
Brunet’s drawings are a female-centric celebration of what the artist calls “modern-day goddesses.” The artist works in an array of materials, including graphite, ink, coffee and acrylic marker, to create her ornate, detailed portraits that can suggest fashion illustrations, though she cites her inspiration as ancient female deities and goddesses rather than supermodels.
The women in Brunet’s drawings wear ornate headwraps and haughty expressions, adorned with garments and backgrounds rich with pattern, as if harnessing the life force and energy of the world in a swirling vortex of repetitive line and color. But Brunet’s work tends to shine best when she allows her delicate pencil drawings some room of their own, and keeps a tendency toward over-ornamentation in check.
Her drawing technique is compelling and it would be nice to see her rely more on that skill set instead of feeling compelled to fill her drawings with so much color, line and action. Brunet’s most arresting drawings like “The Meadow Dweller” replace visual excess with meditative calm, surrounding her fierce females with a shroud of white space. That empty space creates a kind of halo around her heroines; an impressive aura of cool and control.
Brunet is an emerging artist who only recently received her degree from Kennesaw State University and is still working out her style and what she wants to say. But she shows promise in this early foray.
It’s little wonder that Atlanta artist Parker has worked as a tattoo artist throughout his career: His lavishly detailed drawings in enamel and ink on paper have the intricacy and love of pattern that must make for indelible skin art.
For “Luminous,” Parker centers on fish and fowl, elephant, moose, octopus, that when painted and mounted on wood suggest an especially decorative, finely wrought child’s wooden block. As with Brunet’s work, sometimes Parker’s obsession with pattern and mark-making seems to substitute for the absence of a compelling idea. The work is beautifully rendered, but you long for more: Parker is an artist of enough talent to offer more than these charming portraits of the kind of creatures that would ornament a young couple’s nursery walls.
Pushing Parker’s animal kingdom quaintness into an effervescent sweetness and whimsy that can often veer into cloying, Noblin says his photo collages are inspired by childhood “memories, fantasies, daydreaming and imagination.” As in Parker’s works, animals are front and center, suggesting proxies for human experiences of struggle and play.
In the characteristically fantastic “Harvest,” a cow hovers in a flying saucer above a field, beaming hay bales up into his spacecraft. In “Serenity,” a single tree attached to an island of the earth beneath it floats like a hot air balloon or blimp above a zebra calming grazing below.
Such scenarios have the feel of particularly imaginative, offbeat children’s books in which animals engage in activities founded on conveying a feeling of surface delight. Noblin’s scenarios can appear to be allegories, but of the most downy, vaporous sort. “Stop Wasting Time” features a rabbit mesmerized by a glowing vintage television. The horizon is filled with images of goading clocks that seem to shriek the title’s message.
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