I interviewed C. Matthew Luther for JSOnline's Art City recently. He
spends time in places around Wisconsin that have been so polluted that
they are designated Superfund sites by the Environmental Protection Agency. Then he makes art.
When I say "still life" what comes to mind? Carefully arranged tableware, flowers, bowls of fruit, probably. Dead animals, maybe. The operative word is "still." Or put another way, inert.
Robin Jebavy's still life paintings, on glorious view in the Lynden Sculpture Garden gallery, are anything but inert. True, they are composed of carefully arranged tableware, mostly glass or other transparent, shiny and reflective objects. Janet Fish's paintings might, appropriately, come to mind. But what sets Jebavy's work apart is the tensions she creates between pairs of opposing principles. Transparency vies with opacity. Shape and color fight for dominance. Frenetic movement resolves towards calm. Complexity is contained by an organizing symmetry that suggests the form of a mandala without ever arriving at such specificity.
A mesmerizing amount of detail invites close scrutiny while the large scale of the overall compositions rewards a step back to take it all in, to ponder intensely.
Robin Jebavy: Recent Paintings is on view through May 31.
Lynden Sculpture Garden is at 2145 W. Brown Deer Road. More information on its website.
Full disclosure: I am currently one of the artists in residence at the Lynden Sculpture Garden.