Robert Sievert

Some Trees Somewhere


from 'And I Love You So' (cover)

from 'And I Love You So'


The question of what art does for us is often asked and ruminated on. The paintings and photographs of Nancy Purnell on view at Caliban for the month of October provides answers and definitions to such inquiries. Her work puts us in touch with a vision of nature that isolates us from the steady onslaught of everyday sensory bombardment.

The landscape paintings she presents are images of natural undisturbed settings in which the imprint of human endeavor is far away. The drama and content of these pictures are of nature itself; the late light of day raking across a seaside field , setting the colors on fire, contrasting with the jewellike blues of the water, or the desolate march of darkness into a roll of autumn hills.

The paintings are achieved in quick determined brush work that eschews detail and celebrates personal expression. There is a heavy impasto ,as the build up of color is layered into the pictures with an emphatic impulse. The color itself is perhaps one the strongest elements of the painting. It seldom misses making excellent effect, expressing light without directly mimicking nature.

There is a calmer hand at work when Purnell approaches the nude. In these paintings the forms of female figures twist through space in a series of provocative poses. There is more reliance on line for definition of form. The color is subdued and delicate and the figures are poetic and beautifully imagined again by their lack of detail and emphasis on essential form.

Also in the show are a number of photographs Ms. Purnell has made of Marthaís Vineyard where she is a part time resident. The beaches, dunes, trees and architecture are seen for their painterly values. They are presented with a beautiful formality. There is a startling clarity in some of the beach scenes in which color and light are displayed within near perfect geometry.

Also, while not on display, available at a table are copies of Ms. Purnellís latest book A Magical Place which contains many reproductions of the artistís work. Not a catalogue, this beautiful book was published last summer. It is collaboration between poet, Brook Robards and Purnell. Between the two of them , they selected poems and images, chose type, laid out pages to create a remarkable portrait of Marthaís Vineyard.





Robert Sievert

All images
Copyright © 1996-1998
Nancy Purnell
Several of Ms. Purnell's landscape paintings can be seen in her section of ETAOIN's Art Gallery.