The New Mexico Art League Gallery is hosting “Biologique: Art Inspired by Nature,” a beautifully ambitious and somewhat uneven installation of paintings, photographs, mixed media, prints and drawings by area artists based on geometric and other hidden mathematical structures in nature.
The show was curated by NMAL director Buffy Nelson and artist John Meister, who were looking for artists who utilized systems like fractals, the Greek golden section and golden mean, the Fibonacci number sequence, gradated color transitions, scaling patterns, geometric abstraction and other structuring devices to interpret the natural world.
With an eye toward inclusion, the curators chose a salon-style hanging to stack as many pieces in as possible.
Though most of the works are very strong, an edit could have produced a less breathless show to view.
That said, there are some very outstanding pieces ranging from a bold organic abstraction titled “Goldmind” by Lea Anderson to science-inspired pieces titled “Cephelopoda-Monite” and “Patterns Left Behind” by John Meister.
Anderson recently installed a much-lauded window mural at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History.
Her work in the NMAL show represents her well-known studio work on wood panels with fluid grain patterns that complement the flow of her colorful forms.
Meister spent two months in researching the fossil background of cephalopod shells that leave behind no soft tissue.
In order to create his very real-looking rendering, Meister utilized his childhood pet octopus’ skin patterns and outer body features to create an educated facsimile of an ancient albeit still extant life form. Some early cephalopod shell fossils span 12 feet in diameter.
Meister’s work positively reveals his fine drafting and painting skills.
David Saiz and fellow traveler the late Georgia O’Keeffe embrace flowers as havens for abstraction while allowing the artist to retain their botanical integrity as natural forms.
Saiz’ excellently executed “Blue Orchid” transports viewers through a swirling and colorful vortex of energy that thrives on beautiful brushwork.
David Welch is an Albuquerque artist and teacher who utilizes the traditional grid to offer structure and transferability to his plein-air watercolor study titled “Chiracahua Spring” and its more complete landscape counterpart “Escalante.”
Welch’s penciled-in grid adds a welcome contemporary touch to his otherwise traditionally painted work.
There are several gorgeous photographs at NMAL including Ed Jordon’s stunning “Winter Tapestry 3” that shares a strong kinship with abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock’s “Autumn Rhythm” from the 1950s.
Another stunner is “A Face Runs through It” by Bruce Shortz, who layered two digital images to narrate the connection between Mother Earth and the Native American people.
Jacklyn St. Aubyn mimics a camera with her natural history museum-like “Yellow Bird and Thistle” oil painting on board. It’s a beautiful rendering on a diptych format that draws the eye across the gallery.
Among the more conventional images were Rex Barron’s acrylic titled “Pathway” and a nicely rendered pastel with a water theme.