Culture- ART FEATURE- Re-vision: McLeod's Cezanne makeovers
Visually quoting other artists is an established art tradition. Appropriating a known image not only pays homage to the original source but also pulls viewers into the new work by forcing them to reconsider the familiar. Think, for example, of iconoclast Marcel Duchamp's putting a moustache and goatee on Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa.
Judy McLeod doesn't ugly up Paul Cezanne in her current exhibition, "Quoting Cezanne," on view at Angelo, but she does give his still lifes a makeover. Using richly patterned and textured papers, McLeod adds ‘zazz to Cezanne by excerpting small vignettes from his paintings and recreating them as painted collages.
The hallmark of her work is its seamlessness. The images read first as paintings and only upon closer examination as paint-and-paper assemblages. McLeod doesn't attempt to alter Cezanne's compositions, leaving awkward lines where they lie. She focuses on translating his original visions as faithfully as possible into a new language, albeit one with a few extra flourishes.
Because the original paintings are so staid in their familiarity, it's easy to overlook the details McLeod works and reworks. Via a palette dominated by ochres, greens, and reds, pears quietly become paisley, white dishes gain faint monochromatic patterns, and everything gets a light dusting of gold. Under McLeod's hand, Cezanne's arrangements acquire a sheen of understated opulence.
One of her most effective pieces is the small "Shell," which she lifts from Cezanne's "The Black Clock." Omitting the source of the original painting's name, McLeod turns her attention to the large conch lying behind the white cup on the tabletop. She replaces the shell's luminous orange interior with an even more luminous rush of red paper patterned with green and gold leaves. She adds interest to the cup's surface and the green wallpaper in the background by enhancing them with barely detectable fibrous papers.
McLeod's work is so delicate it requires an unobtrusive background to reveal its subdued effect. Unfortunately, several of her re-creations of Cezanne's apple arrangements hang on Angelo's wood-paneled east wall, where the brown wood deadens the apples' golden cast.
McLeod isn't interested in re-contextualizing Cezanne historically or in making loud political or social statements through her appropriations of his paintings. She's not out to change the world or the way we view art. Rather, she pays homage to the painter by reinterpreting his works in sumptuous patterns and making them shine anew with a golden glow.
Judy McLeod's exhibition, "Quoting Cezanne," is on view at Angelo through the end of October. 220 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 971-9256