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.