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Contemporary Figurative Painting


A new exhibition at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, "Contemporary Figurative Painting," looks at the resurgence in surrealist practices in contemporary figurative painting. The exhibition, which opens Saturday, February 7, 2004 and continues through Sunday, March 28, 2004 at the KIA, includes 23 whimsical, eye-opening works by Ed Fraga, Barbara Thiery Buysse and Edward Monovich. (right: Edward Monovich,"Judging Freedom," 2002, mixed media on paper)

As contemporary artists focus more and more on our fractured environment and fast-paced culture, painting has led the way in this examination, as these three artists demonstrate.

Fraga's paintings are narratives of real and dreamed scenes, composed with an eye for detail and subordination of color that refer back to the Renaissance. Many of his paintings submit to aspects of spirituality, with details taken from various religions, and their symbols and icons. Fraga has exhibited in New York and is in the collections of the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Cranbrook Art Museum, as well as many public and corporate collections. He lives and works in Detroit.

Kalamazoo artist Barbara Thiery Buysse has developed an eye for the oddities of everyday life. Buysse captures relatives, friends and community members in a heavily patterned and colorful world where collaged body parts, stylishly nonconforming outfits and unnatural juxtapositions are the norm. Cosmic nerds meet California musclemen on a beach of charged yellows, oranges and blues -- all while having the time of their lives, being in a place they should not be. Where dream meets reality, Buysse does not sympathize, but elates in this party of opposites. (left: Barbara Thiery Buysse, "Dogma," 1998, oil on board)

Edward Monovich has, for the past decade, focused on paintings and drawings that examine national identity, privilege and entitlement in a context of social, economic and physical violence. Images collide within each composition, creating a surreal relationship of scale, proportion and dream reality. Monovich, a native of Michigan, was schooled at the University of Texas, and now lives and works in New Jersey, exhibiting there and in New York City. (right: Barbara Thiery Buysse, "Wingback Woes," 1999, mixed media on paper)


The KIA also offers two free programs connected to this exhibition.

KIA Director of Collections and Exhibitions Don Desmett will discuss contemporary figurative painting at the KIA's weekly ARTbreak on Tuesday, February 17 at 12:15 p.m. Coffee is provided; please bring a brown-bag lunch.
Art & All That Jazz, an informal, after-hours event that combines great art with live music and free refreshments, takes place Friday, March 12 from 5-7 p.m. Featuring gallery walks and music by the Wonderland Jazz Ensemble.

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