Dick Kagan Photography At Works

Posted: October 26, 1990

Works Gallery, which showed photography in its early years, has returned to the medium with an exhibition of recent works by Dick Kagan, a former woodworker who once operated his own gallery on South Street. A chronic back condition forced Kagan to give up woodworking several years ago. He turned to photography, and this show, of 12 black-and-white images made in Italy last year, marks the introduction of his new career.

The series is called "Light Studies," and that describes them perfectly. With the exception of several landscapes, they're formalist investigations of light and shadow in architectural settings. One three-image sequence, for example, charts the shift in shadows at one site; the shifts transform its appearance so radically that it becomes unrecognizable.

Kagan's image are mostly high-contrast, but it's generally the shadows rather than the sunlit accents that define the composition and mood of each picture. The images are soft rather than crisp, which imparts a romantic ambience, but they aren't so much about Italy as about shape and counterpoint. For an inaugural, it's an attractive body of work.

Works Gallery, 319 South St. Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. To Nov. 15. Telephone: 922-7775.

GALERIE NADEAU. The first solo exhibition at the new Galerie Nadeau features 18 paintings and four lithographs by David Saunders, most of which attempt to offer three layers of perception in one sitting. Saunders describes these layers as "seeing, thinking and feeling," but each represents a different visual strategy.

The topmost layer is realist. In a portrait, it might be only the head of the subject; in a still life, a single plum or apple in the middle of a large canvas. The second, less discernible layer is an image incised into the canvas that may extend, complement or contrast with the realist one. The third layer, even less obvious, is an abstract, painterly ground that generates mood through lush color and tactile brush strokes.

One reads the picture layer by layer, then combines them together for the full effect. The "thinking" layer, which is almost subliminal, is often slightly comic, so the effect, when it works, is contrapuntal. The dynamic doesn't always work, though, because the subordinate layers can be difficult to read. And after one has seen a few such paintings, they begin to seem gimmicky - clever, but gimmicky nonetheless.

Galerie Nadeau, 118 N. Third St. Hours: noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. Through Nov. 14. Telephone: 574-0202.

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