Magical Acts

“… I suspect Lili White is young enough to believe in the magical, transcendent properties of art. How else to account for the bits of nature—seaweed, leaves, scraps of a bird’s wing—incorporated into certain of her canvases, or the presence of her palm print in others?
This is more than a signature; it suggests a magical act—a closing of nature within are in one case, an opening up of art by the artist in the other. This is the myth of Rimbaud: that art will make a mage of our, a seer.
It’s a necessary myth: If artists don’t believe in their work who will? And if we cease to be believe in art—in the human ability to interpret and transcend the world around us—we take ourselves a step further from the angels and place ourselves a step closer to the apes.
This is a small show—17 works, about half of which are large canvases. All are done in a surrealistic style, though I don’t know if White considers herself a Surrealist. Two of the works— ISIS and OSIRIS—seem heavily indebted to Andre Masson; the others are surreal in a more personal manner.
Though there’s also an ARIADNE, myth and legends seem to matter less in White’s world than does nature. Her claim to make art out of “whispers, wind, vapor” is the “subject” of the work on display.
There’s something going on in these paintings—though what isn’t always apparent. CHINESE LANDSCAPE offers a sensation of leaves falling, perhaps because of its predominantly brown and mustard tones. In LUMINOUS AIR, the ruin of a bird’s wind hovers in mid-air. The rest has perhaps been absorbed into the luminous air.
Despite its title, ARIADNE, this large (six feet by ten foot six) acrylic and collage conveys the impression of falling. PHAETON would perhaps have been a more accurate title. Blades from a circular saws and bulbs from electric candelabra provide the collage elements.
MAY/WIND contains fragments of a Japanese paper umbrella and fans, cardboard boxes, even a green and red Talbots ribbon. It suggests windblown refuse and yet is a static, motionless affair. A patch of black-and-white geometic-designed fabric acts as a blocking element.
Finally, though, it was a relatively simple, moderate-sized (56 x 34”), untitled acrylic that impressed me most. Done mostly in purple and black, with metal-leaf highlights, it reminded me of a closeup if a drooping sunflower head. Perhaps it was the relative simplicity of this composition, especially after the complexities of LUMINOUS AIR and ARIADNE, which attracted me to it.
White’s world seems lacking in humor, that’s a sign of youth as well. She take the business of being an artist/seer very seriously. I hope she stays that way.

“I was determined to make art out of whispers, wind, vapor, roots, ebony, burls, emerald shimmers, REFLECTIVE snakes, the taste of chili peppers, the smell of stars.”

PSYCHIC LANDSCAPE are epic sized works holding several distinct elements of Nature’s detritus (LUMINOUS AIR, MAY WIND, 5 ELEMENTS).

The RELIC SERIES preserves precious objects that were happened upon that hold some unknown story (FOUNTAIN.) The stones in ROSE, GREEN, VIOLET, are pathways leading the eye through environments of color.

In THE LIGHT of NATURE Series natural objects are enshrined in a way that centers them inside a mysterious force (THE WARNING, HORIZON).

Some pieces seem to serve as both that lift-off into the super real (OWL, TREE SPIRIT).