Monday, July 11, 2011

Somerville Artist Resa Blatman: Where Beauty and Ugly Meet

(Scintillating Swamp, 2011
oil, glitter, beads, graphite, and acrylic on cut-edge panel
39½h x 59w inches)

Somerville Artist Resa Blatman: Where Beauty and Ugly Meet

By Doug Holder

This year I taught the once controversial book "Black Spring" by Henry Miller in my college writing courses. This work deals with the mean streets of Miller's Brooklyn youth: the sweaty press of the flesh, the cast of ner-do-wells, the street urchins, the duplicity of the swells and the hucksters and all that ugliness that Miller found beauty in. This is similar to the work of Somerville artist Resa Blatman. She sees beauty and ugliness and they live next door to each other. In fact much of her work is informed with the duality of the world.

On her website Blatman states: “ Through my work, I attempt to show nature at odds with itself by playing with the contradictions of lush versus barren and rapture vesus displeasure. My compositions are inspired by the Renaissance, Baroque, Victorian, decorative art and botanical imagery to create a visual feast of fruit, wildlife and pattern." This artist takes these out of their natural context and conjures up a surrealistic landscape that gives the reader a take on an enigmatic life cycle. Animals and insects are in this fecund mix and some pretty threatening pieces of fruit which according to Blatman creates: "Undertones of want and dismay."

Blatman happens to have a space at the Vernon Street Studios in Somerville, and lives with her husband in the Magoun Square section of our town. She was born in Long Beach, N.Y., lived in New York City, Italy, and has lived in Somerville for a long while. She loves the Somervillian environs and runs into many artists who are just dying to get a piece of the action and a plot of land here.

Blatman likes to push boundaries: she paints raging tornadoes as well as dead birds. ( Maybe they are related!) She said: " My goal is to make paintings that are sometimes over-the-top." She feels good about pushing things too much, after all too much beauty can be repulsive--the very dichotomy that the painter dwells in.

You might say Blatman's paintings are cutting edge-literally--because she uses cut-edge surfaces. She explains on her website:

"The digitally designed, intricately cut-edge surfaces are new since 2008. The various edges, which may include animals, insects, and flourishes, are an extension of the patterns within the paintings. These cut forms, along with the shadows made by the cuts, encourage a three-dimensionality to the work, and by doing so, the paintings become more experiential and boundless."

Blatman made sure to remind me that she has a solo exhibition at the Ellen Miller Gallery Sept. 9-Oct. 18 36 Newbury St. in Boston. It will be beautiful./It will be ugly./ You will be repulsed/You will love it.

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