“The Foreseeable Past,” a solo exhibition by T. L Solien at Tory Folliard Gallery, is full of paintings with overtones of tradition, but intriguingly strange despite their friendly, vivid hues. They bring together collage and flat colors with subtle notes of disconcerting places. A companion exhibition by Swedish artist Erika Nordqvist follows suit, but with distinct variation.
Solien’s Road to Emmaus features a full-lipped, longhaired blond figure holding a white dove and wearing a headdress decorated with symbols like Scandinavian flags. A companion vaguely smiles while fingering a dripping pile of yellow stuff from a wall leading to the arched passage to a city. The title suggests a biblical subject, but Solien does not deal in traditional narratives.
Solien describes his art as “absurdist cultural critique,” which can be applied in the way that references are suggested, but become something different, even surrealistic. Shades of Joan Miró appear in the way dense black forms and outlines appear, or Giorgio di Chirico for the manner of a passage moving with jarring swiftness from light to dark. Location is altered under Solien’s brush, as two-dimensional space opens within nuanced shades of color. Solien’s artistic maneuvers don’t exert their dominance, but contribute to an intriguing air that is familiar but altogether unreal.
Erika Nordqvist is featured with her exhibition, “Bye Bye Dirt, Bye Bye Worry.” Her drawings describe things like libraries or kitchens, populated by characters in unordinary situations. FAT TV is a sparse place where two people stand casually. A woman holds up a large lock of hair over her head, while the hand at her side holds an open scissors. Parts of her head are already shorn, as though she’s waiting for the moment to just do it to the rest. She is solidly cool, dispassionate, as are many of the figures in Nordqvist’s work. The scenes and vignettes described by her pencil have a tension and otherworldly drama that is captivating. Her selective color opens up her compositions even more, and like Solien, describes a world recognized but usually residing in dreams.
Through May 27 at Tory Folliard Gallery, 233 N. Milwaukee St.