McLean Project for the Arts is currently exhibiting three contemporary artists whose techniques involve layering. I was initially attracted there to look at Georgia Nassikas’ paintings made in an encaustic technique. In this medium, paint pigment mixes with beeswax to create a very thick and rugged texture, as seen in Stone Wall, above. Paint must be kept hot during application and it sets quickly. The technique was introduced in Egypt during the Roman Empire, in portraits of the deceased encased in mummies. Nassikas uses the wax from the hives of bees she keeps, as it is necessary to cover the large areas of the multi-layered canvases she paints. Many diverse, uneven shades of color show through the wax in both abstract and landscape paintings.
Carolyn Case has small intimate paintings of oil which also feature layering of a different kind. Her exhibition is called Accidently, On Purpose, suggesting the the works are spontaneous. However, portions of her paintings seem to be cut out or stenciled with different patterns. Even if we cannot figure out how she gets her multi-layered effect with different colors and patterns appearing in front and behind each other, we can get lost in the intricacies and details of her paintings.
Carolyn Case’s intimate paintings are 12″ x 12″
They are Part Potion, left, and Blue vs Blue, right, featuring multiple layers
Finally, Seth Rosenberg’s paintings do not have the layers and textures of paint that Carolyn Case and Georgia Nassikas give to their oils and encaustics. However, his paintings from the “Cleveland Years: 2005-2009” give the illusion of overlapping of abstract and realistic forms.
He mastered making compositions which combine several different patterns in single paintings which resemble collages. Colors are minimal, almost monochromatic. This artist lived in Washington, DC, for twenty years, but spent five years in Cleveland until his sudden death in 2009. The Rosenberg exhibition originated at the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art. Kudos to a small community art center, McLean Project for the Arts, for bringing in such a good traveling exhibition.