Visual Arts

Altered Angles: George Grochocki & Shayne Murphy Take Courageous Chances

Two very different painters are having their work shown at the sleek Anya Tish Gallery in an exhibition entitled Altered Angles: George Grochocki & Shayne Murphy. Both artists take chances, and both are courageous.

George Grochocki seems minimalist, but gives a lot, relying on three-dimensional shaping, and the wit of almost-hidden color accents to add drama. "Between Black Silence and White Movement", however, is all white, 16 three-dimensional squares arranged into a larger square, with the individual squares tilting at angles to create shadow and light.

"All Quantities are Straight Unity" is also all white, and has two vertical pillars, each with four varying recesses. This could be a maquette for a futuristic apartment house, or for an IKEA bookcase to house computers that will one day dominate us with elegance of design; the possibilities are endless.

"Limitation in Endlessness is Like the Present in Eternity" is the most minimalist, with an off-center vertical crease leaning forward at the top but not at the bottom. That's it. I tried not to like it, since the artist seemed grudging here, but of course I couldn't - talent will out.

His color accents come into play in "Pluralities of the Plane Fall into the Unity of Shape", white with some black, where a small panel of pale gold color seems to want to escape a confining structure. Similarly, "Something Different Happened" is composed of four white panels, but the bottom right one is raised slightly, to reveal that its sliver-sized side is black. And the upper-right panel tilts forward to reveal a sliver of gold color on its side. These small effects are made large by contrast and wit.

Shayne Murphy has two paintings suggesting action figures from a graphic novel - we used to call them comic books - cast in the heroic mold, with energy to burn. Murphy has dared to make these not only female, but to portray them from the rear only, so that their faces are not revealed, a risk that pays off here. Their titles, "Blight" and "Calamity", suggest deeper meanings, which escape me - I hope it's not mysogny at work - but I admired their vivid vigor. These works are wisely hung by the gallery to be on view at a distance as one enters, to dramatize their enticing energy.

"Remains of a Grimace" has an air of mystery, purple globules piled behind restricting fragmented walls. It's interesting, but I failed to penetrate its significance.

"St. Helena's Discotheque" is my favorite, a building and its sidewalk, floating mid-air like a figment of the imagination, but detailed in its depiction of trees and their shadows, with large blue vanes on a seemingly authentic roof - the vanes are yellow and purple on the edges. There is a solitary male figure walking, wearing a shirt emblazoned with what I took to be the flag of Italy, with green, white and red vertical stripes. The work reveals the richness of Murphy's imagination, his dexterity, and a cheerful outlook devoutly to be encouraged.

Murphy has some smaller works as well, 8x8", and I was intrigued by "Cheeto Party" and by "Headdress", and found the far simpler purple and blue "Plateau" and "Bolt" relaxing.

Altered Angles: George Grochocki & Shayne Murphy continues through August 15, Anya Tish Gallery, 4411 Montrose, open Tuesdays to Fridays, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., 713-524-2299,

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Jim Tommaney