The Illusionists – by Joseph Bravo
F. Scott Hess – The Dream Of Art History
In conjunction with TRAC 2019, California Lutheran University professor, Dr. Michael Pearce curated an exhibition of extraordinary artworks at Studio Channel Islands in Camarillo, California.
The Illusionists exhibit was striking for its diversity in examining the parameters of Imaginative Realism. From psychological allegory in the works of Regina Jacobson to the surreal floating avatars of Guy Kinnear, from the art historical fantasia of F. Scott Hess to the beautiful xenospheres of Roger Dean, from the wunder-kabinet creations of Sandra Yagi to the domestic futurism of Bryan Larson, from the lyrical elegance of Richard MacDonald’s acrobatic sculptures to Conor Walton’s ambiguous political satire, from Pamela Wilson’s menaced Steam Punk carnival figures to Boris Vallejo’s ominous fairy, from Julie Bell’s pastoral Pegasus to Mark Gleason’s psychically charged Mythical Realism, from Brad Kunkle’s Nouveau-Raphaelite mysticism to Vince Natale’s xenomorphic taxonomy, from Kenna Houtz’ confined harlequin to reckoning the sinister landscape of Mark Poole’s mal ojo bruja or Kathucia Dias’ immaculately rendered avian mystery, each of these artists invoke the simulacra to give palpability to the ambiguous.
Each work carries within it an internal logic that imparts an enigma. No two artists have the same imaginative priorities and Imaginative Realism seems to give license to the idiosyncratic impulse regardless of style, technique or narrative direction. What these artworks deny the audience is easily derived resolutions as key elements of the context are left just out of range of the viewer’s perception. The works defy self-evident interpretations and are neither kitsch nor transparently predictable. Hence, the viewer is left to complete the narrative with their own imagination, to project as much as derive, to query the semiotic while deciphering the meaning and actively engage the artworks as a speculative exercise or resign themselves to the cognitive dissonance of inherent ambiguity.
Whether allegorical or mythological, psychological or philosophical, political or hypothetical each piece carries both an overt and a subtextual meaning that is implied more than blatantly stated. It is this conspicuous sense of inescapable nuance that commands viewer engagement and provides an enduring intrigue that keeps the viewer’s attention. That this is done with ostentatious virtuosity places these artworks beyond the standard Postmodern fair and imparts a gravity that gives them more credulity than a mere glib paradox. There is an authenticity to these artworks that reflects the integrity of the artists who created them and allows us a glimpse into the uniquely mysterious worlds of their creative imaginations.
Studio Channel Islands is located at 2222 E. Ventura Blvd., Camarillo, CA.
Gallery hours are Tues.–Fri., 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
For more information, call 805-383-1368