The immediate impression on seeing the amazing watercolors by Christopher St. Leger is that this artist loves architecture, cities, and watercolors, and uses his talents to create vistas of shimmering beauty. This is a large and impressive exhibition, so a viewer in immersed immediately, and surrounded, by cityscapes so enticing as to make choosing which to see first a challenging assignment.
St. Leger's artist statement in part reads "... the delicate spilling of watercolor on concrete isn't a gesture of expressionism -- it's human vulnerability." There is a remarkable feeling that St. Leger is sharing his heart as well as his artistry.
In 140513 bullnose west, St. Leger used the blinding light of close to a midday sun to bleach a building almost white, while a shadow in the lower right provides some welcome relief. There is a sense of such immediacy that I felt I could stand there and watch the shadow on the building move as the sun continued its westward path.
Some of the watercolors stress humanity rather than architecture. In 140204 sargasso, St. Leger features the glistening bounce of rain on the sidewalk of a busy outdoor mall, including the distorted reflections. A walker in the foreground has one foot about to hit the glistening wet pavement, and I felt, if I waited, I could hear the splash.
In 140808 tinted, three clusters of especially-tall office towers dominate the skyline. They dwarf the surrounding buildings, but in turn are dwarfed by the sky itself, a reminder that our dominance may be temporary. In 140717 curtain wall the same feeling is transmitted, with the sky here even more dominant.
In 130912 the conceptualist a solitary figure dominates, leather-jacketed, back to us, as the figure is dwarfed by an imposing building, perhaps a bank, almost entirely outside our frame. What the figure is staring at is known only to St. Leger, but we see here that humanity has met stone, and that stone has won.
In 140410 uplighting zentrum there is a black night sky, but the artificial light of the city brightens and warms the buildings, making them inviting. In 140407 kreuzung west the wires between two buildings intrigue, while a clear blue sky promises a dry and benevolent day.
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In 130607 westhausen St. Leger leaves office architecture for residential living, low-rise apartment buildings, nestling one against the other. A similar approach, though more of a close-up, is seen in 130425 pasadeen, and the fascinating juxtaposition of buildings, sky, and a strong accent color resonates with some of the strengths of cubism.
In 140217 aurora St. Leger portrays a rich variety of architectural styles, including a rooftop atelier. In 140226 researchers St. Leger returns to humanity, with two women on bicycles, and he embraces humanity in 131023 booster which shows only humanity, a crowd scene, arms in the air showing encouragement - and perhaps the ultimate triumph of the human heart.
This is a cheerful, engrossing exhibition, and a visitor is more than likely to leave with a smile on the lips, and a desire to visit some of the locales depicted.
Christopher St. Leger, Mass and Void, continues through November 26 at the Hooks-Epstein Gallery, 2631 Colquitt, open Tuesday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., 713-522-0718, hooksepsteingalleries.com.