Fading: Orr's work mirrors Eurydice's fate

Clearly, the Orrs have cornered the market on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth. Poet Gregory Orr has retold the entire story in short poems that he subsequently published as Orpheus and Eurydice. And then his wife, Trisha, created artwork for the Piedmont Virginia Community College performance of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s opera, also titled Orpheus and Eurydice. 
Orpheus was, of course, the man who descended to the underworld and talked Hades into letting him bring his love, Eurydice, back from the land of the dead. The one catch Hades imposed was that Orpheus couldn’t turn around to see if she was actually following him. He had to trust that she would be there. 
Just before they reach the light, however, he can’t help himself and turns around, only to watch Eurydice fade back to the underworld. It’s a tragic story, and one can only hope that the Orrs– so invested in the tale– rent some dumb romantic comedies every once in a while.
Trisha Orr’s exhibit offers no clues about how she conceived the work and how she intended it to function, both on stage and in a gallery, but there seem to be some obvious concessions to the former medium.
Orr’s paintings are all still lifes of flowers and they are for the most part big, magnified images– as if intended to be seen from the back of an auditorium. These close-ups of blooming flowers, typically a single flower bloom, come in small sets of two or three. In each set, Orr moves from a relatively straightforward realism to light abstraction while using the same image as a guide.
So the sunflower in “Sunflower I,” appears as if submerged under choppy water in its companion painting. Its background brightens from a solid blue to aqua. The white lantern flower simply depicted returns again in a squiggly, unbroken-line style that gives it a look not unlike a plate of noodles.
The single bud of a rose reappears, looking semi-deconstructed. The shadows in its folds fade into the background, and the petals seem to be barely connected to one another. Obviously, the energy of the exhibit comes in the movement from realism to abstraction and as Orr’s paintings go from I to II and III.

Trisha Orr’s “Eurydice Paintings for the Opera Orpheo,” runs through May 31 at Les Yeux du Monde @ Dot2Dot. 115 S. First St. 973-5566.

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