Artist Tori Tinsley is the subject of the solo show “Down in the Valley” at Hathaway Contemporary Gallery, which includes the work “Angels in Heaven Know I Love You,” in acrylic on panel. CONTRIBUTED BY HATHAWAY CONTEMPORARY GALLERY
Parenthood is everything, no matter how you slice it, in Tinsley’s work. Her opening image — “Angels in Heaven Know I Love You,” of goofily smiling angels flying through the heavens — sets the terms of a show founded on love and loss and the circular nature of things. The show takes its titles from a song Tinsley’s mother loved that she now sings to her son.
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Artist Tori Tinsley’s “Give My Heart Ease.” Parenthood is everything in Tinsley’s work. CONTRIBUTED BY HATHAWAY CONTEMPORARY GALLERY
Tinsley’s paintings show strange, humanoid creatures, bald-headed and cartoonish, clinging to other figures like a drowning man to a life vest. In her take on the Madonna and Child, “Give My Heart Ease,” a mother with absurdly puckered lips plants an exaggerated kiss on a tiny baby cradled in her arms. Feverish love works both ways in “Down in the Valley.” It’s doled out by mamas smothering their babes in kisses, but also expressed in the mildly horrifying painting “Build Me a Castle Forty Feet High,” in which a baby breastfeeds and her mother’s eyes roll back in her head with exhaustion or sublimated, entrapped helplessness. Love is nothing short of fierce and frantic in Tinsley’s hands.
Working mostly in eye-popping shades of acrylic paint — manic reds, pinks and flesh tones — Tinsley conjures up the sinew, blood and guts of human experience: death, birth, the gore of life. The color scheme also summons up the slicker, superficial shorthand of romance in cartoon hearts and red roses. Her color palette is juiced up to the max, evoking the hyperbolic intensity of children’s art and handmade valentines scribbled in crayon on construction paper that can never quite convey the devouring love of a child for her parents.
The only false note in this splendid, expressive show is an overreliance on the rose as a symbol of love that the artist comes back to too often. Instead, it’s her frantic lovelorn humanoids who convey so much better the emotional terms of this exhibition.
“Tori Tinsley: Down in the Valley”
Through Jan. 19. By appointment Mondays-Tuesdays; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays. Free. Hathaway Contemporary Gallery, 887 Howell Mill Road, Suite 200, Atlanta. 470-428-2061, hathawaygallery.com.
Bottom line: An Atlanta artist delivers heartfelt work about love and loss.
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