Review: Contemporary Figurative Work at 924 

4 stars

Gallery 924; through July 29. The first exhibition juried by Arts Council staff, Contemporary Figurative Work succeeds through smart installation and surprising inclusions that go beyond the expected gesture drawing, nude or portrait. Strong, fresh artistic voices exploring the human form are mixed with art by established artists — many still doing what they do but foraging ahead — such as Tom Casalini, James Viewegh, Kyle Ragsdale, Jude Odell and Constance Scopelitis.

The display's rhythm allows the works to have "conversations," and, at best, interplay with the gallery's architectural elements. Great placement on a brick wall pulls viewers to the stark fireplace illustrated in "Decaying Consciousness," one of two amazingly rendered and psychologically intriguing drawings by newcomer Joseph Crone. Drawn on frosted, two-sided acetate, Crone's works have a dramatic, grainy black-and-white photographic look and film noir feel.

"Prisoner of One's Device" portrays the same tormented man three times in what appears to be a one-room apartment. Whether he is a gangster in life or just in his head, there is something unspeakable happening. On the other end of the gallery, the raised overhead arms of the towering classical female nude bronze, "Lily, Lily, Rose" by the familiar sculptural voice of Matthew Davey is more celebratory. Nearby, Cagney King's expressive, loosely painted "Find Your Place" shows the explosively uplifting arms and head of a jubilant, dark skinned man and conveys a contagious triumph.

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