Leigh Hyams at Meridian Gallery
by Mary Hull Webster
an excerpt from Artweek, February 2004, Vol. 35 Issue 1, p19,
To get hold of the invisible you must penetrate as deeply as possible into the visible.
In paintings, drawings and artist's books,
Seeing the work, a viewer might imagine a petal glinting briefly in the sunlight under the watchful eye of the artist who causes the moment to reappear in red pastel turnings of a newly opening rose, as in Green Stems on Yellow Ground. In work that bears witness to brief openings in time, the artist's hand bridles against the magic object seen in her Mexican garden. In the scraping rhythm a heightened sense of listening charges the juxtapositions of color and hesitant line, which seems more received than made.
Hyams's edgy attention catches things that move--insects, flowers, an alligator, a volcano and many birds. Six examples from the Gorilla Portrait series (charcoal on paper) display the movement of inner feeling in the startling expressions on the faces of gorillas--thoughtful, angry, remorseful, worried faces that carry an anthropological quality. With stick-like birds recalling a description of the Buddha as the one who just left, Slate Book with Birds is a standout among the artist's books. My Garden, mixed media on paper, is a masterful display of almost smokey ground overlaid by notational shapes and movements, each turned in on itself as though referencing the softly undulating vastness. Black Stems on Yellow Ground sets slender red flowers against the heat of a yellow day that pulses behind the forward movement of the plants.
Hyams's work has long relied on blacks that recall Albert Pinkham Ryder or Odile Redon, as though her visions are to be found in dark places--midnight skies, the hidden things on the bottom of a pond, historical treasures lost and then brought to light like archaeological finds long silted over in the collective mind. A small canvas, El Maiz, pictures an ear of corn that brings with it an entire culture. Mayan Temple, a midsized canvas, displays an edifice of mottled bright light rising out of a dark jungle beneath a thinly painted, purple sky. What mystery created the building that inspired the painting? The doors are too high for entrance, the lower story lost in brambles and forbidding defenses. Mayan Temple is a signature painting for
Nacimiento, (mixed media on canvas) was reserved for a single day's showing because
Source: Artweek, February 2004, Vol. 35 Issue 1, p19, 1p