Going Beyond the Surface: Boston Globe Reviews Paul Shakespear and Karl Baden
Paul Shakespear, Pier, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 36" x 53"
"Painter Paul Shakespear experiments with the material properties of paint: how to achieve translucence? Depth? A stony surface? His show at Howard Yezerski Gallery features all these, sometimes juxtaposed in a single piece. The work has no narrative. There’s some mark making, but it’s subservient to the tactile quality of the surface of a painting, or its luminosity. It’s all about painting as object.
"Shakespear applies dozens of glazes to each canvas with a trowel, creating panels dense with color. Looking into them is like peering into a giant aquarium. In “Vault,” that aquarium would be filled with honey. The murky, rich panels in this four-square grid lighten along the edges and at corners. The piece’s rich sensuality is reined in only by its strict, modernist format.
"Pier” comprises three panels. The center, a vertical white column, is breathy in places, buttery in others. The panel on the left is gritty, rugged, with rough swipes of dark brown over a ground that resembles lichen-covered rock. The right, a deliciously glossy teal, shimmers like a swatch of silk. The two side panels play off each other — rough versus soft, defiantly opaque versus luminously shiny. The middle column cleanses the palate. Each panel is a world unto itself, and a place to spend time.
Karl Baden, 2008 Lexus 350, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2012, archival inkjet print, 16" x 20"
"Yezerski has a second show, color photos by Karl Baden, that makes a comical pairing to Shakespear's contemplative canvases, but both have to do with surface and color, and suggest the experience of peering through glass.
"Baden’s bodacious photos were all shot from within a car, looking out. The windshield or windows function like movie screens; what’s going on outside seems larger than life. In “2008 Lexus 350, Cambridge, Massachusetts,” three women in eveningwear hurl accusations at each other, seemingly across the hood, as the car's dash glows an eerie blue. Closer investigation reveals the women are in an advertisement on the side of a passing bus; you can see a utility pole through the bus’s window at the top of the frame.
"Not all of the photos hinge on billboard ads, but they do portray a world outside the car that looks wild and big, making the car into a protective shell for the viewer, an extension of self. Which, of course, it is."