Your Source For The Arts In Atlanta

Review: Elizabeth Lide, Elizabeth Sheppell, Marshall Davis — a study in contrasts

Though linked by technical skill and attention to detail, the work of Elizabeth Lide and Elizabeth Sheppell, on view at Sandler Hudson Gallery through February 25, is a study in contrasts.

Lide, who takes advantage of her skills as a graphic designer and natural draftsman, exhibits a mastery of line, color and tonality in her mixed-media series “Recordings.” Using Kozo and Gampi paper (both made in Japan using bark fibers) as her ground, she sparingly employs graphite, India ink, watercolors and oil sticks as pigmentation.

Through these media, her geometric forms take on fragile life. Works such as “Pink Moth” and “Purple Flower” have a soft, tentative presence contained within the restraints of grid-like patterns that resemble the angular compositions and precise color-blocking of artists such as Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky.

ce or snippets of the natural world — a color, an arc, a transparency — Lide has condensed these aspects into what she calls “recordings, notes, suggestions and memories.” The simplicity and elegance of design that she has achieved reveals the ease that comes with maturity: her restrained minimalism and precise mark-making eliminate the unnecessary in order to reveal the most important nuances of her expression. In “Swimming Pool,” the perception of depth of field and light is stored as blocks of color, a condensation of elements that is both economic and powerful.

In other works, Lide’s technique resides solely in the manipulation of the handmade paper itself, with no added pigmentation. By building up the centers of off-white Aback paper with delicate layers of pulp, she has created organic-inspired focal points resembling kudzu, leaves, lotuses and other vegetable objects. The diminutive scale and elegant approach to this subtle three-dimensionality pull the viewer in and engage the eye in an intimate way. This aspect of the viewing experience makes these works a bright companion to the rest of Lide’s series.

If Lide’s work is all about controlled reservation, Sheppell’s is about excess. Thick, built-up layers of acrylic paint on panel, the paintings in her “Surfaces” series are lush and vibrant, exposing complex color relationships. The paint hangs beyond the edges of the panel to create a sculptural impact. Sheppell’s interest in the medium as a surface texture inspires the viewer to pay attention to the sides of the pieces, where the extent of her paint manipulation is more readily apparent.

Eliazbeth Sheppell: "For the Love of Indy"

The stratification of pigment that she achieves through layers of glazes creates a spatial illusion that is most evident in those paintings, such as “My Head Is Swimming” and “For the Love of Indy,” in which she also scrapes through the field of color, revealing bright areas of contrast. The color fields serve as a plastic means of creating depth, the abrasions a reference to the push-pull spatial theories of Abstract Expressionist Hans Hoffmann and his experiments with the perception of dimension. The more successful pieces are also evocative of aerial land patterns, as in the vein of Jane Frank and many others.

Some of the smaller works in Sheppell’s ”Fat Series,” which offer little more than a monochromatic swatch of color, are less fully realized than the others; they come off as studies. This doesn’t render them completely without merit, as they allow the viewer to see the evolution of this practice. A standout in this series, “no. 1,” is a roux of yellows, amber and reds that superficially mimics the hues of sepia-toned photographs or the play of light in a sun-drenched field.

An additional contributor, Marshall Davis, adds a bonus piece. Installed on the gallery’s roof, “Container Still Life” is a large sculpture that offers interesting juxtapositions of materials and scale.

Marshall Davis’ “Container Still Life”

Reflecting Davis’ interest in “the geometry of hoarding,” it consists of a chest of drawers topped with a milk crate and flanked by an iron bedstead. It brings up questions about the meanings we bestow upon our personal effects. In this work, the utility of these household objects is stripped away; this and its out-of-doors installation leave us to contemplate these items as mere forms.