BELLPORT VILLAGE

‘Strangers in Stranger Lands’ will ease your isolation

Linda Leuzzi
Posted 6/25/20

Wait! The 59-by-47 painting in the front of the gallery looks familiar.

“We have three paintings in this exhib- it where the artist references classical artwork,” said Marquee …

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BELLPORT VILLAGE

‘Strangers in Stranger Lands’ will ease your isolation

Posted

Wait! The 59-by-47 painting in the front of the gallery looks familiar.

“We have three paintings in this exhibit where the artist references classical artwork,” said Marquee Projects gallery owner Mark Van Wagner. “This one is by Genieve Figgis and it’s called ‘Las Meninas’ after the Velázquez painting.”

That one was near life size and included King Philip IV’s 5-year-old daughter, Maria Theresa, painted in 1656 with an enigmatic quality, revolutionary at that time, that forces you to linger. (It currently hangs at the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid.)

On closer look, the Figgis painting also keeps you glued, only this work has a sort of horror quality: Maria Theresa’s face is blurred and so are that of her court underlings. But, like Velázquez’s creation, it sure draws you in.

“Figgis does this interpretive painting,” Van Wagner explained. “It’s a tongue-in-cheek rendering. What’s interesting about her work is that it’s classical, but utterly contemporary in her realism. It can’t be more fitting in the way we’re all feeling now.”

Marquee Projects held an open house on Saturday and Sunday, “Strangers in Stranger Lands,” with compelling creations like the Figgis painting. (Take a look at Figgis’s other work, “Pink Sky,” a romantic 18th-century scene, a couple in a gondola bathed in a swirl of gorgeous pink.) Van Wagner’s latest exhibit is a play on the strangeness we’ve all been experiencing because of the COVID-19 virus. Eleven artists are dis- playing their work here, including sculpture, and it’s a fun and thoughtful art musing.

“Leaving the Moment” by Mary DeVincentis will stop you in your tracks—a woman walking along a country lane has her head literally in the air. “We’re neither here nor there,” commented Van Wagner of its meaning. “It’s done so essentially, but really captures the whole mood. Her head is about to go into the clouds.”

Besides interesting interpretations, Van Wagner will discuss how the artists approach their work. Emily Quinn’s “Melting Point” is the end result of setting up incredible landscape interiors with cardboard doll houses, figurines and colored lights, he said, then pouring melted wax over the figures.

A mysterious sea creature rises from the water and looks directly at you in Felipe Ariza Castro’s “Ultra Violet Light.”

“Blessing,” a beautiful black woman in an aqua dress, was rendered by Colombian artist Janet Maya, eloquent in its meaning.

While Caravaggio’s “Bacchus” is in the Uffizi, “Bootleg Caravaggio” by Philip Gerald is a vivid, happy, colorful take on the master painter’s god of wine, fertility and unbridled joy.

Van Wagner said the weekend open house, held from noon to 7 p.m. with facemasks, entering through the rear, social distancing, and four allowed in at a time, was a big success.

“We had about 60 people come on each day,” said Van Wagner. “It was the gallery’s biggest exhibit opening since the New Orleans painter Gabrielle Ledet’s colorful show last year.”

“We’ve been getting international attention also,” he said. “And we sold two paintings already.

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