Tripoli Gallery

Blue Night, 2009
Oil on canvas
45 x 45 inches

Shape Shifter, 2008
Coal dust, gold dust, paper, oil and acrylic on canvas
70 1/2 x 59 inches

Jobos Beach, 2009
Acrylic on canvas
72 x 96 inches

Tree Field, 2009
Oil on canvas
62 x 44 inches

At Your Service, 2009
Oil on paper
41 1/2 x 31 1/2 inches

Zoe at the Dunes, 2009
Oil on canvas
44 x 62 inches

Starcrossed Lovers, 2009
Oil on canvas
19 1/2 x 39 inches

Ophelia, 2001-2009
Oil on wood
72 x 84 inches

Nude I, 2009
Mixed media on canvas
41 1/2 x 42 inches

Nude II, 2009
Mixed media on canvas
41 x 41 inches

Nude III, 2009
Mixed media on canvas
41 x 43 inches

Nude IV, 2009
Mixed media on canvas
36 x 24 inches

Nude V, 2009
Acrylic on canvas
40 x 30 inches

International Stripper, 2009
Mixed media on canvas
40 x 30 inches

Before We Let Go..

November 28 ‐ December 24, 2009

While Southampton Village is in its annual restrained Christmas glory — a light show of colored bulbs on low trees placed just so, white angels lining the Parrish Art Museum fence, and Santa’s sleigh just around the corner — there is a gallery on Job’s Lane that is bringing a different vibe to the otherwise staid and traditional proceedings.

The Tripoli Gallery of Contemporary Art has been in place since July, but at no time previously has its owner’s unique aesthetic been so striking in comparison to its environs. Tripoli Patterson, a professional surfer and art connoisseur, has chosen for his winter group show several pieces from a South Fork artist, Darius Yektai, and a Puerto Rican artist, Felix Bonilla Gerena.

“Before We Let Go,” the title of the show, is a meditation on the psychological aspects of releasing the notion of control over the future and one’s destiny. It’s a pretty loose construct that allows a wide umbrella to be cast over any number and kind of abstractions.

The third artist, Angelbert Metoyer, who is from Houston, contributes only one painting because he has another show going on simultaneously. But it is a strong one. Called “Shape Shifter,” it has a spiritual quality both from the title and in its depiction of the outlines of a profile that has a couple of different manifestations. The presentation is shrine-like and the very-black-coated dog lying in the lower left appears to be keeping watch.

The balance and use of materials such as coal dust and gold dust make a textural and rich presentation. The artist’s placement of text very purposefully with the title of the work and then more haphazardly around the canvas is intriguing, but its necessity to the work is not immediately apparent. The extra words do not seem to convey much in additional meaning, seemingly because the purely figurative elements are stronger in comparison.

Mr. Yektai’s paintings are all of recent vintage. In fact, nothing in this show is more than essentially a year old, and some paintings were even hung up wet. Yet in one two-paneled work, called “Ophelia,” the dates run from 2001 to 2009.

Is she the Shakespearean character? It does seem as though she might be in the process of being subsumed by a body of water that appears to be rising. Still, she appears to remain firmly on land, at least on one panel. The darkness and otherworldliness of the panel on the right, contrasted with the still mystical but more grounded panel on the left, is the most obvious evocation of Mr. Patterson’s theme.

Another work by Mr. Yektai, “Tree Field” from this year, has a kinship with the photographs of Jean Luc Mylayne, who had a show at the Parrish Art Museum this summer. The painting appears to explore the same subject matter — lone signs of life in otherwise barren settings and capturing a meditative moment, no matter how imperfectly. The steel screening the artist uses is distancing and somewhat confining as the implied paradise in the background seems to be put farther out of reach.

Mr. Gerena has a singular focus and obsession with the female form, specifically the torso from the neck down and up from the thigh. The forms repeat in patterns that are often so abstracted it is difficult to make them out of the various lines and layers of colors he may apply. Once one is attuned to the meme, it becomes an expected part of the viewing experience. Yet, despite its attendant limitations, the artist is correspondingly inventive in his applications of it.

In one series of nudes in the show, the artist even varies the use of his canvas, cutting holes in it like those in sailcloth and attaching grommets from which the pieces hang, giving them a casual, wash-line feel that conjures the informality and spontaneity of the islands.

After viewing a series of these exercises, it is easy to get lulled into the same languor. Intriguingly, however, the artist is not satisfied to leave us there. Instead, in a work called “International Stripper,” the conventions of the anonymous artistic nude are called into question. No longer is the subject a series of lines taken from broken-down forms, but, instead, a truly broken-down form.

The lines still allude to a figure in nature, but they remain even more abstracted. In trying to once again discern the representation from the abstraction, the viewer is now a voyeur. With various international currencies applied to the canvas in collage form, the meaning of the work is direct and exploitative. It’s a great surprise and a bracing slap to the face, reminding us all of the difference between subject and object and the power and role of the gaze from an unexpected source.

The exhibit is on view until next Thursday.

Darius Yektai’s “Ophelia,” an oil on panel diptych, is by far the most literal example of the theme of the exhibit at the Tripoli Gallery’s “Before We Let Go.”

- Jennifer Landes (12/17/2009)

Félix Bonilla Gerena
Blue Night, 2009
Oil on canvas
45 x 45 inches

Angelbert Metoyer
Shape Shifter, 2008
Coal dust, gold dust, paper, oil and acrylic on canvas
70 1/2 x 59 inches

Félix Bonilla Gerena
Jobos Beach, 2009
Acrylic on canvas
72 x 96 inches

Darius Yektai
Tree Field, 2009
Oil on canvas
62 x 44 inches

Darius Yektai
At Your Service, 2009
Oil on paper
41 1/2 x 31 1/2 inches

Darius Yektai
Zoe at the Dunes, 2009
Oil on canvas
44 x 62 inches

Darius Yektai
Starcrossed Lovers, 2009
Oil on canvas
19 1/2 x 39 inches

Darius Yektai
Ophelia, 2001-2009
Oil on wood
72 x 84 inches

Félix Bonilla Gerena
Nude I, 2009
Mixed media on canvas
41 1/2 x 42 inches

Félix Bonilla Gerena
Nude II, 2009
Mixed media on canvas
41 x 41 inches

Félix Bonilla Gerena
Nude III, 2009
Mixed media on canvas
41 x 43 inches

Félix Bonilla Gerena
Nude IV, 2009
Mixed media on canvas
36 x 24 inches

Félix Bonilla Gerena
Nude V, 2009
Acrylic on canvas
40 x 30 inches

Félix Bonilla Gerena
International Stripper, 2009
Mixed media on canvas
40 x 30 inches