Seduced by Improbable Images Angela Passalacqua & Barbara Black

Blackfish Gallery, Portland, OR

By Allyn Cantor
This two-person exhibition brings together the shared interests and emotions of long time Blackfish gallery artists Angela Passalacqua & Barbara Black, who have shown their work together on many occasions over the years. The former studio mates confer weekly, creating pieces that inevitably influence one another. Process is a foremost consideration guiding Passalacqua and Black, who both let media, improvisation and chance inform composition and meaning, creating works with rich textural surfaces and poetic undertones. These expressive, multi-layered painting techniques, as well as mutual themes surrounding the powerful world of dreams, are both threads connecting these two artists.
For this new exhibition, Passalacqua works with idea chimeras and recombinants as a subject to expand her allegorical narrations into a contemporary dialogue. Her paintings of surreal characters, set in dream-like surroundings, appeal to the modern imagination, while recalling ancient mythological creatures. Passalacqua connects the ill-fated omens that chimeras can symbolize with modern DNA manipulation to ask larger questions about mutations from genetic engineering and scientific developments that could change our world, turning these figures of fantasy into ones of reality.
Barbara Black uses techniques like pouring and brushing acrylic pigment in successive washes to develop her non-narrative abstractions, allowing compositional structures to arise in collaboration with this process. Her paintings also reflect the dream world, in a more subtle tribute that lets the power of the unconscious come into play. This fluid and interactive painting practice simultaneously reflects the universal properties of natural systems.

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