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Memphis Flyer
Carol Knowles Review March 4, 2010
Show at Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects
February 16 - March 12

Mike Coulson's abstract landscapes in "Recent Paintings," on display at Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects, evoke the world's constant flux and passages of rare beauty. Layer after layer of what look like translucent skin, sky, and swaths of fabric in Stepping Out suggest deeply tanned beachcombers au naturel and back-dropped by piercingly blue sea and sky. They move in and out of the light beneath beach umbrellas with crisp-edged stripes that fade to gray to black, then lighten to near transparency as their colors bleach in the sun.

Coulson's works — acrylic on canvas and inkjet prints — contain exuberant calligraphy and complex crosshatchings backed by seemingly endless variations of color and topped off with saturate stripes. Remarkably, they never look overworked or confused or muddy.

As titles like Awakening, Through the Middle, Peeling an Onion, Heart of My Heart, and Eye of the Needle suggest, Coulson attempts to get to the physical, emotional, and psychological heart of things. In Sanctuary, he creates a safe haven that brings to mind sunlight and breezes moving through the Venetian blinds of an open window and across the walls of a room in which we nap. Depending on how deeply we doze and each wall's proximity to the light, Coulson's subtly modulated color fields, brick-red, burnt-orange, raw sienna, and umber bleed into one another. Luminous orange threads (cords to the Venetian blinds, perhaps, or fleeting dream images) wafting across the surface of the painting make Sanctuary one of the most evocative works in this or any other current show.

At Askew Nixon Ferguson through March 12th


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