Susan Eley Fine Art is delighted to present two solo shows featuring recent paintings by Liane Ricci, from Chapel Hill, NC, and Barbara Strasen, based in Los Angeles, CA. Ricci is represented by over a dozen abstract paintings on wood panel and a custom, hand-painted wall mural in the South Gallery; and Strasen with eight mixed media paintings on Yupo in the North Gallery.

Both artists have participated in solo and group exhibitions, as well as in art fairs with SEFA. The exhibition opens with an Artists’ Reception on Thursday, February 27, 6-8 pm, and remains on view through April 9, 2020.

Liane Ricci’s abstract paintings defy categorization. They are based in geometry and largely composed of bold lines dissecting and running alongside shapes, yet there is nothing linear or analytical about them. A lyricism and feminine grace permeate each painting. Bits of smoky, blurred color bleed across edges; drips soften flattened color fields and a general tonal sfumato pervades these new paintings.

The contrast in surface quality and the movement between linear elements tracing and sometimes hugging angular forms, keep the eye moving around in a type of carefully choreographed visual dance.

Ricci is a colorist; deeply interested in the relationships between colors placed side by side and the ensuing emotions and reactions that it can elicit. She is also intrigued by the play of line against solid form and how the two together create a visual tension.

All 13 paintings in the exhibition were created in the past year. The excitement and dynamism in each one is palpable. In Median, Ricci chooses a square format that evokes a kind of landscape, with large circular forms to evoke boulders, under earth-toned areas that could be construed as fields or mountains. Yet we are brought back to the surface as a flat element, and not a scene with perspective, by the dissecting red line and blue triangular form that move boldly across the panel.

In Viaduct, the yellow, blue and gray areas harmonize consummately; and the black comb like form seems to wrap itself around the central geometric shape, creating the visual surprise and tension, so characteristic of this series. In Early Apex, ribbon-like lines circulate around the painting, breaking up the large triangular forms and keeping the eye swirling around the composition.

Barbara Strasen creates imagery plumbed from the depths of a fertile imagination and a trove of rich memories, in combination with signs, symbols and pictures inspired by advertising, TV, film, signage, billboards, magazines, medical texts and other sources. No image is dismissed as banal or unimportant. It is all important to Strasen, in a kind of hyper-democratic reflection of the insanely complex visual world we inhabit as denizens of the 21st century.

Given this diverse source material, one might think that Strasen’s paintings—acrylic, ink and collage on Yupo paper—would read as chaotic or unsettling. On the contrary, she finds the flow and lyricism amidst a complex layering of disparate imagery.

In the painting Deconstructed, Strasen seems to have taken a Rococo painting from the 18th century, shaken it up and re-dispersed its elements. The essential components of a landscape—trees, tufts of grass, blue sky and clouds—are rearranged, topsy turvy, with the figures from the narrative still largely central, in tact and attempting to finish what appears to be an afternoon picnic.

Grapes, flowers, birds, a modern cruise liner, a starfish, a pair of bikini-clad sunbathers and figures clothed as if they have stepped out of Fragonard painting, all inhabit the painting Rococo Modo. Despite the random, unconnected objects sharing space, harmony rules. With a brilliant and intuitive sense of color, Strasen combines washes of shades that act at once as backdrop and connective tissue for the imagery.

In Tide Tea, a large black and white graphic of a stylized wave—reminiscent of Hokusai’s famous wave—dominates the composition, replete with floating tea pots and beautiful silhouettes of birds, flying against a background painted with rich blue and deep red.