A surprising visual presence is given to everyday objects — ranging from fruit, to a marble, to a toaster — in a show of realistic oil paintings by Ted Conley at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
“To me, there has always been a fine line between art and life,” the Chickasha artist said.
“I strive to pinpoint and emphasize areas of life that emanate intrinsic beauty … that might otherwise go unseen.”
Two apples may be company and three a crowd, but the reflections of “Five Apples” crowded together on a gleaming wooden tabletop have a powerful optical impact in his work of that title, for example.
The same may be said of Conley's oils of “Five Cherries,” casting their shadows on a surface brightly lit from above, and of his aerial view of a bowl of the same gleaming, dark purplish-red fruit.
Color and shadow become crucial in two small oils of “Red, Orange, Yellow” peppers, seen from above, while a glass “Marble,” and its reflection, surrounded by darkness, bring to mind twin planets in space.
Such mundane objects as a drainage sieve, a black rubber stopper, and what's left of a piece of soap, at least become interesting enough to hold our attention, in Conley's “ … and the Kitchen Sink.”
Other ordinary subjects for paintings, elevated to nearly iconic status, include a silvery “Toaster,” and a simple, but sculpturally elegant “Red Teapot” with a bamboo handle. Possessing its own panache, too, is the curling skin of one of “Two Oranges,” which has been partly peeled by an unseen hand.
There is also the suggestion of a romantic story, left unspoken, in his oil of a “Broken,” overturned wineglass, casting illusionistic shadows on a surface which could represent the cloth on a “table for two.”
Sponsored by the Oklahoma Arts Council, Conley's exhibit is well worth visiting during its run through Sept. 9 in the capitol's first floor East Gallery.
— John Brandenburg