Keepers, a group show curated by Bay Area painter Aaron Petersen, brings together painting and sculpture from several contemporary currents of biomorphic and geometric abstraction. The title suggests possession and ownership. It also conveys a self-appointed seal of quality assurance. But the show itself, of emerging and mid-career artists, carries no such certainties. With a nod and a wink, it traffics in ambiguity and mystery.
Petersen is one of the six artists on view. In the past, his oil-on-aluminum paintings have mixed Chinese landscape imagery, symbolist-like orbs and swirling P&D gestures. They’ve also offered viewers a portal into an alternate reality that stopped just short of pure fantasy. Now, he’s ventured somewhat cautiously into pop surrealism, proffering a universe populated with insects and comet-like forms that orbit around “hives” that seem suspended in space. Their exact domain – sub-aquatic, terrestrial or astral – remains uncertain.
Lorene Anderson’s small panel pieces, by contrast, seem almost hermetic in their quietude. Their gauzily painted grounds have an ethereal openness and luminosity that suggest the outward trappings of spiritual abstraction; but if you don’t look closely you might easily miss their virtues. The detailed forms that dance on the surfaces of her most intriguing works are practically microscopic. They range from images that have the chiseled precision of magnified snowflakes to amorphous paint pours that, before running astray, coalesce into shapes that look like chorus lines spelled out in hot wax. They have a lyricism that sneaks up on you. The smallest of her works, Aglaura, at 5” x 5”, is a revelation.