“Harsh Beauty in the Smashing Elements”
Louise Guerin at Blue Mountain Gallery
by Robert Sievert
Louise Guerin's new paintings, to be seen Blue
Mountain Gallery in April and May, are bold
expressionist images. She is at her best in a
series of almost black and white painntings that
seem to explode off her canvases. Her paintings
of Utah's Park City and a beach in New Zealand seem
to mark a real step forward into expressive painting.
Guerin was an artist in residence at Utah's Park
City last Spring and was surprised to find herself
wanting to paint that landscape, since it was so
unfamiliar to her. The solemn majesty of the high
peaks around Park City and the quiet hush of the
salt flats of Salt Lake itself both captured her
imagination and ended up in very different but
equally forceful canvases.
Guerin sensed massive forces as she painted this
current landscape exhibition -- a deep disquiet in
the air -- the pounding surf in these imposing
seascapes certainly does not invite thoughts of
swimming. The geographic location is her homeland
of New Zealand but the general atmosphere echoes
the current worldwide uncertainty in all spheres.
The paintings take on an allegorical significance
and mythological forces seem to be at work here.
Guerin worked from drawings and photos of a beach
she has been visiting all her life. Her animated
brushstrokes match the crashing waters and the
sense of impending danger and challenge. The huge
pieces of driftwood being washed up could be
survivors of an unknown struggle further up the
coast or a transplanted version of Mathew Brady's
battlefield corpses from Antietam. Harsh beauty in
the smashing elements.