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Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008

Nature Imagined

Art Review

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Magic realism-stepping across the line dividing here from there-turns me on, be it in the novels of Murakami, Marquez, Eco and Mishima, or in the work of Flora Langlois, a Wisconsin artist who hails from Costa Rica. You too can fly unfettered straight to the heart of make-believe, where fantasy reigns from Nov. 21 through Dec. 27 at Tory Folliard Gallery.

To my mind, the best fairy tales suggest danger lurking until death comes knocking and (perhaps) resolves our earthly games, which in Langlois' acrylic paintings are played in excruciating detail. Here frolics Truth among the lush greenery, where all seems well enough, but not quite, as Truth is never simple. Elements of Wilde, Bosch, Bruegel The Elder and Uttech populate her fantasies. Initially, I was bothered by some obvious references to Uttech's paintings, references that include his familiar owl and bear themes set against the northern lights of Wisconsin. On further consideration, I decided they are not ideas stolen, but instead are layers of art history illuminating Langlois' long career. Love Seed Pods, a delicious example of a thriving mind, depicts four elongated women encased in pods, though it's unclear if they signal lives about to close, or lives beginning. Is there a moral here? If so, resist it-not knowing is far better. At age 80, Langlois spins quite a tale.

Now imagine Ohio-based artist Dennis Wojtkiewicz as a Lilliputian artist painting images of pieces of fruit about to be served to Gulliver-gigantic slices depicted in oil paint glowing with light and color, each fruity segment an architectural wonder constructed by nature.

Langlois and Wojtkiewicz serve as two tellers of tales using paint in lieu of words: one cunning and layered, the other in your face. No need to choose one over the other. Ask Folliard's staff to also show you the work of John Wilde. Never has a dead rodent looked so intriguing; never has a pair of entwined carrots seemed so sexy. Trust me.