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Review: Terra Incognita and Theme and Variations 

D. Eric Bookhardt on new paintings and sculpture by Regina Scully and Sylvaine Sancton

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One might say abstraction is quietly making a comeback today, but it's been alive and well all along. Fashions change, but most artists remain somewhat consistent. That said, there is indeed a new breed of abstraction that reflects 21st century consciousness. Regina Scully's Terra Incognita expo at Octavia Art Gallery is a case in point. Inspired by the landscapes that exist in reality and in our dreams, Scully paints elaborate psychic territories that link those objective and subjective realms in compositions that suggest a kind of ethereal visual music. Here, landmasses and cities are suggested in shimmering, mirage-like forms that seem to exist in a parallel universe. Luminous Deep, pictured, is emblematic, an elemental rhapsody of matter and energy that recalls a coloristic Shangri-La, or perhaps one of Gaston Bachelard or Italo Calvino's "invisible cities" that exist only in the recesses of reverie, yet reflect the resonances of intensely felt personal experience. In art lingo, work that fulfills its potential is deemed "fully realized," and this show has many examples.

Sylvaine Sancton's abstract paintings and sculptures at Barrister's Gallery express a fully realized vision that transcends media. Whether it's paint, wood or travertine, Sancton's sinuous, organic forms are pristine articulations of the transcendent reality that she sees just beyond the ordinary reality we all share. One unusual attribute of this show is how the sculpture "explains" the paintings and vice versa, making it clear that all reflect the same vision, which is just as much a "reality" as any "realistic" art, subjective though it may be. Or as she puts it: "The nature of my work is sensual and emotional. There are only lines, color, and matter... It does not represent reality. It is reality."


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