Arkansans who love art love Carroll Cloar, the artist nonpareil whose line drawings and pointillist paintings inspired by his boyhood in East Arkansas are in the vernacular of the American South. They so clearly reflect that particular time and place, in his deft linear style.
Basil Alkazzi is a southern artist as well — the south of France, that is, where he lives in the principality of Monaco. A Brit, he is more widely known in London than in Earle, Ark., where Cloar was born 100 years ago, and his work is as fluid as Cloar’s is flat.
Work by both artists are being shown in Arkansas State University’s Bradbury Gallery starting tomorrow. There will be an opening reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the gallery.
The Alkazzi exhibition, “An Odyssey of Dreams: A Decade of Paintings by Basil Alkazzi 2003-2012,” features 34 large-scale abstract gouaches inspired by the landscape of his home in the Mediterranean. I’ve only seen the work digitally, but it recalls the sensuousness of work by Georgia O’Keefe and Arthur Dove. His work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Hirshhorn Museum of the Smithsonian Institution; the San Diego Museum of Art and many other important institutions.
“Odyssey,” as its name coincidentally suggests, is a traveling exhibition that is premiering at ASU, and two famous people in the art world had a hand in it: It was curated by Judith K. Brodsky, distinguished professor emerita at Rutgers University, and art critic Donald Kuspit has an essay in the book accompanying the exhibition. Kuspit writes about the abstract images that
“They finally metamorphosize into the glorious flowers … Like Mondrian’s flower paintings they are sacred icons, but unlike Mondrian’s flowers those of Alkazzi are not decaying and melancholy but jubilant and growing — not nature on its last legs, ready to be abandoned in Mondrian’s geometrical abstractions, but nature full of joie de vivre, all the more so because it remains mystically abstract.”
“Drawings by Carroll Cloar” is one of five Cloar exhibits in the neighborhood, with four shows in Memphis (where Cloar lived and worked), at the Brooks Museum, the University of Memphis, Christian Brothers University and Mid-Southern Community College.
The exhibition runs through Sept. 29. Gallery hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday and by appointment. To schedule an appointment, call at 870-972-3471.