Edward J. Sozanski Review
Philadelphia Inquirer, June 10, 2005

Looking Eastward

Nonwestern references have become so common in contemporary art that they no longer appear exotic. Artists have developed ways to sublimate their source material so completely that it no longer announces itself.

Two are artists, Trudy Kraft and Diane Pieri, are showing gouache and watercolor paintings that evoke nonwestern cultures without being derivative of them.

Both emphasize the energizing potential of decorative schemes. Kraft’s intricate and sometimes large-scale paintings at the Gross McCleaf Gallery suggest several sources, including Oriental carpets and Australian aboriginal paintings. Pierei’s smaller, visually sparser gouaches at the Rosenfeld Gallery re-create the measured eloquence of Mughal miniatures.

Both artists have experienced Japanese culture firsthand, but neither mimics the visual conventions of that country. Each, in her own way, transforms a meditative aesthetic by enlivening it through color, pattern and eccentric composition.

Kraft’s paintings emphasize the emotive power of vivid color and dense patterning. Pieri’s pictures are cooler emotionally, but alo unorthodox in the way they juxtapose color fields and looping marks at the edges. Where Kraft is assertive, Pieri is quiet and delicate.

The two artists share one important and attractive attribute – they individualize nonwestern influences so completely that the viewer isn’t consciously aware of them. In each case, visual delight results.

Contact Trudy Kraft