Review: Steve Mannheimer, 'Flowers & Knives' 

click to enlarge 'Knife in a Pitcher'
  • 'Knife in a Pitcher'

Former Indianapolis Star art critic and current IUPUI professor Steve Mannheimer is back on the scene this month with his first exhibition in recent memory, consisting of five studies and nine titled paintings, all oil on paper, all undated, only one framed.

Despite the exhibition's title, only two knives appear, although there are four candles. Most of the paintings do, indeed, include flowers, whose greens, oranges and reds cut through the impressionistic haze of the paintings. The interrupted reflection of stems and flowers as seen through water in a glass stands out as one of the most striking images. There are heavy, visible brushstrokes throughout, and the texture is built up in the petals of the flowers.

Certain attributes set these paintings apart from most still lifes. Not only are fewer objects depicted in each painting than is customary, but some unusual objects pop up frequently (candles, knives), while other common still life subject matter (fruit, notably) is absent. The spacing between the objects is often considerable, and the cropping of the image sometimes cuts off the objects.

It's impossible to shake the sense that these are extremely odd images; it's a mildly ominous, murky series, with plenty of off notes - a lit candle in a glass of water, an odd knife in the fray - playing dissonantly against flowers and other more conventional elements. Still, while the paintings are well-executed and succeed in differentiating themselves from other still lifes, they fail to distinguish themselves in terms of execution and imagery. Through June 30 at Wug Laku's Studio & Garage

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