The subtly fantastic


Martin Weinstein: Time Landscapes

4 Star Gallery

Through Jan. 20

Martin Weinstein, a New York City artist, offers an outsider’s perspective to the commercial gallery scene here in Indianapolis, one that is becoming more and more rich with the talent and breadth of perspectives of local and regional artists. But Weinstein’s aesthetic view is not necessarily radical.

Weinstein, whose Time Landscapes are on view at 4 Star Gallery, comes under the tutelage of Katherine T. Carter & Associates, an institution dedicated to landing regional and national museum and gallery exhibitions for its artists. Indianapolis has a growing number of venues for local artists, and presenting their work in tandem with “outside” artists such as Weinstein offers a richer view. Local artists should only be encouraged by seeing their work on a par with those from elsewhere.

Weinstein, while not well-known here, seems to be well-established on the mid-sized museum and university gallery circuit, with recent exhibitions held in nearby Anderson and as far away as Midland, Texas, and many other cities besides.

The artist started out as an abstract painter, he writes in his artist’s statement, but as he puts it, “abstraction didn’t satisfy my delight in seeing.” Rather, he saw the world in layers — layers that tease out both common perceptions and unique ones: “A different kind of resolution could come from layering differing ways of imagining reality rather than reconciling them,” he writes. And this is where his approach is considered radical.

On first viewing, these are landscapes first and foremost. Placid scenes of land, trees and sky in almost equal measure are the crux of Weinstein’s subject matter; and his love of nature is captured respectably in his largely traditional painting techniques. Step in closer, and the layers emerge — literal layers of paint on clear acrylic sheets, the layers building one upon the other to create a sort of composite, but one that does not make rational sense until the viewer steps back again. Then, like a puzzle with disparate pieces not quite pushed into their proper places, the eye compensates and draws together a totality of form.

Metallic frames, solidly constructed, are somehow the perfect container for Weinstein’s gentle and more dramatic imaginings, made sharper through the depth of the layers and through tricks of his brush — a field of pointillist color echoing the sun’s light, for example, but also suggesting foliage; or a distant horizon line emerging from between shafts of light.

Both large and smaller scale works offer a view of realms that are at times fantastic or at least something close. It’s almost as if Weinstein still dances with the muse of abstraction, and he takes its best qualities — the extracting of light, form and color — and infuses his landscapes with them, lending a dreamlike quality. A tree fades out and water emerges. Light falls into a cavern between banks of impressionistic trees while an orange slice of sun floats brightly on the outermost layer.

Weinstein offers a bit of loveliness that is both welcome and provocative. Enjoy his work through Jan. 20 at 4 Star Gallery, 653 Massachusetts Ave., 317-686-6382 or