Alex Kanevsky’s solo exhibition, entitled “Heroes and Animals”, opened at the Dolby Chadwick Gallery in San Francisco last night. The work focused primarily on solitary female nudes, two large compositions featuring a horse and rider, and groups of women. The overall mood was deceptively serene, with undercurrents of desire, apprehension, and uncertainty running beneath the surface.
Although highly refined in technique, the work maintains a sense of primal energy, where human beings are caught in gestures that alternately embody carnality, dominance, anguish, pleasure. An oval-shaped composition features five seated women clustered together. At first glance they appear confident. However, any sense of individuality begins to dissolve into their unanimous posture of tightly folded arms, which are strangely mirrored half way down the composition. All are clad in royal blue gowns reminiscent of those worn by bride’s maids. The women become one anonymous, neutralized unit, apart from what their showy attire may initially suggest.
Kanevsky’s nudes portray the human being unsheathed, bereft of any ornamental armor that clothing might afford, insubstantial as it may be. In one example, a female figure lays prostrate on the ground, unadorned, and utterly vulnerable. Her posture brings to mind a wounded animal left exposed to the elements.
One begins to wonder, where are the heroes? The horse and riders maintain an attitude of power, but Kanevsky cleverly avoids focusing on the stoic rider and instead leaves him incorporeal, fading into the stark background from the waist up. Is power merely an elaborate illusion that one is in control? Kanevsky’s dynamic use of paint, at times cooly calculated and at others frenetic, points to this idea of dissolution as well. Blips of translucent paint hover mysteriously over the surfaces, obscuring and fragmenting the scenes. Figures merge into one another and into their surroundings, creating a blurred, watery effect, as if we were looking at Kanevsky’s figures through an odd, man-sized aquarium.
“Heroes and Animals” will remain on view to the public until October 30th, 2010.
For more images of Alex Kanevsky’s paintings, click here.