Capsule Art Reviews: August 28, 2014

"Allison Rathan: The Cutting Bridle" The Exchange, 60"x48", is a self-portrait of the artist Allison Rathan striding behind a very large wolf on a metal leash. It captures the confidence of this artist, who has blond movie-star looks and the poise and litheness of a fashion model. The leash holder has a slit skirt that exposes a graceful leg, and her left hand is lightly cupping her left breast, a reminder that we are living in a world where sensuality rules. I've Come Home Now echoes the dark power of Wuthering Heights as a man inside a castle embraces a woman through an open window. That Night is a more complex picture; a woman wearing cut-off jeans stands in front of a chain-link fence, with the shadow of the chains reflected on her clothing and even her skin. Her face is not shown, but her back reveals intensity, power, danger — and perhaps fear of being encaged. Or, more likely, she is. Elsewhere in the gallery is a rusty white birdcage, empty, with the door open, so escape is possible. Reinless has another provocative beauty on a horse, her skirt flying. Rathan has a series of small portraits of heads; one, titled Foundling, has the look of a very young dark-haired beauty-to-come whose haunting expression indicates resignation, anticipation and hidden power. I liked best a departure for Rathan, The Red Balloon, a depiction of a charming village street that extends well into the distance. I suggest viewing this both up close and from afar; both will delight. Through September 4. Archway Gallery, 2305 Dunlavy, 713-522-2409, — JJT

"Check Mate" Gil Bruvel's brilliant steel and ceramic chess sets — three of them, each different — dominate the center of the Laura Rathe Fine Art Gallery. They are witty, urbane and beautiful, with an airy, three-dimensional quality, each piece separate and movable. Bruvel's other works are even more powerful — sculptured heads made of stainless steel. Dichotomy presents the head and upper torso of a woman, formed of ribbons of steel, with open spaces between, creating a wind-blown, flowing effect, and making the steel seem fluid and alive. Each side of the face is different, suggesting both a cosmetic disadvantage and a capacity for duplicity. In Rain, the reflection of a man's head begins at the jawline, seemingly a mirror image, but I wondered if the expression in the hooded eyes below was really the same. This could be a Spartan defending a mountain pass. This is a group show, and includes Andreas Nottebohm, considered a master in metal painting. His work here, titled KN-2075, lets us see why. It's an elongated oval, oil painted on aluminum, primarily blue but with shifting elements of green as one moves past it. It suggests water, and has an otherworldly quality, as though it might be a futuristic control panel for a spaceship. It is wonderful. Gian Garofalo creates a series of vertical stripes of varying colors, but with so many stripes and so many colors that the work bursts with energy. Roi James also employs vertical stripes, and his art is colorful, with a soothing, serene quality, almost regal in its quiet authority. This is an exhibition replete with artistic pleasures. Through August 29. 2707 Colquitt, 713-527-7700, — JJT

"Coalescence: A solo exhibition by Jessica Kreutter" The first impression is of a very complicated...what? There are no ready-made words to describe the architecture of Jessica Kreutter's sculpture at post-studio projects, which is composed of interlocking metal frames covered with whitish clay, so the overall effect is sepulchral, ghostly, as of a graveyard at midnight. The metal pieces may be a child's crib or a bedstead, as long, thin square poles hold them together, bridges and perhaps also weapons, lances. A curved round pole looks like a shepherd's crook; curved round poles create circles toward the middle; and an arching curved round pole spans the room to land on a white clay mirror on the rear wall, dislodging just enough clay to reveal a reflective surface. A latticework fragment has been curved into what could be protective armor for a giant armadillo. The floor has an incomplete checkerboard pattern made up of whitish tiles, with the black floor providing the alternating dark squares, like an alien's three-dimensional chessboard. Two more long, round poles at the far right cross each other, creating what could be entrances — if one dared penetrate this forbidding landscape. The creation of this assemblage is unique, as Kreutter began August 1, the beginning of the exhibition, and added to it bit by bit until the viewing of the finished sculpture at a reception on August 22. Kreutter has gone for the dynamism of the strange, so there is no beauty here, but there is a power, and a mystery. The artist suggested that the work spoke of memories and decay, and it does that, and does it very well. Through August 30. 2315 Commerce, 832-207-8110, — JJT

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