"Transformations",Nicholas Pfarr

By Kenn Day

Most galleries I visit are very professional. By this I mean that great attention has been paid to everything from the lighting and framing and placement to the carpet and the color of the walls. The art viewed in these places has been created to compete in a world in which the quality of the art is judged less by the capacity of the artist than by the response of critics, collectors and the social set. Some galleries follow different values, and sometimes the work they exhibit is quite provocative, but more often than not, it is only angry and aggressive, and as competitive in its own way as that in the professional galleries. This is a small exhibit, in a small room in a small gallery, opening windows to a life of art, lived in a larger world. It would be easy to dismiss the art as unsophisticated and lacking in the polish of professionally created art – the gloss of hyper-intentional images that appear in most galleries.

What strikes me most is the lack of any attempt on the part of the artist to create a self-conscious and recognizable style.Instead, there is a genuine effort in each piece to convey his own experience. I see little to no indication of the artist’s ego or interpretation of what is being expressed. It feels to me like a well crafted novel, in which the prose is written to be as transparent as possible, drawing attention not to the craft of the writer, but to the story itself. No anger, no competitive edge. Only an offering of what is important to the artist, in the hope that it might hold some meaning for the viewer as well.

Two of Nick’s images have stuck with me, after a day long drive and a long night’s sleep. One is the energetic explosion of barely contained flowers in the egg tempra, Floral Fantasy. Nick points out that this is not from life, but from his own fantasy. These flowers seem to have been caught while escaping from an English garden. Looking at this image, even on the computer screen, I have a sense that each of these particular flowers have a character of their own, and could do very well for themselves if allowed out of their vase and beyond the frame.

The second image is entitled Transformations, and is rather more challenging. At first glance, what strikes the eye is the unfinished look to the surface of the paper. The pastels come off looking like the crayon drawing of a child, and yet, if you sit with the image for awhile, it can take hold of you. Your mind may recognize the images and begin to “make sense” of the picture, but this too is a distraction. Wait a bit longer and the experience of the artist seems to impart itself to you, reminding you that, yes, this is the way it feels to be transformed. It isn’t pretty, and it makes it a bit difficult to breathe, but it does leave you in a different place than where it begins. If you are interested in viewing images from a life well lived, without needing to make them about anything but what they are, this would be a refreshing experience.

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