Allegra LaViola Gallery is pleased to present “Fire-Fangled Feathers”, an exhibition of new work by painter Jennifer Riley. In her second solo-exhibition at the gallery, Riley maintains her exploration of line, color, shape and space in a series of new paintings and pastels.
Riley’s new paintings continue to reflect an interest in the dynamic movement that underlies everything that surrounds us. Departing from the exclusive use of rectilinear configurations, in the new work line is free to meander, loop, entwine and tangle to express abstract states that hang in the balance. Slashes, clusters, snarls of line suggest worlds within worlds and contradictory states of being. Shapes suggest graffiti, forests, flowers and galaxies—both the macro and the micro are evoked in the work.
The recent work includes large colorful shapes contained by a crisp double lines arranged across soft white and light colored grounds. Colored lines weave in and out of each other creating locations and shapes for colors to be massed or dispersed within. The works are all initially conceived as pastel drawings that are made spontaneously in a completely intuitive manner - they are then reinterpreted as large freehand line drawings on the canvas.
The exhibition title ‘Fire-Fangled Feathers’ derives from the last line in the classic Wallace Stevens’ poem titled “Of Mere Being.”
Of Mere Being
The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze decor.
A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.
You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.
The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.
Like Wallace’s bird, the spirit of the work sings to us in a song we cannot understand with words. It must be through the spirit that the paintings speak to us, and let their own feathers shine brightly in the light.