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Focal point: A critic's view

One of the things that makes Karin Davie's painting exciting is how the Canadian-born artist manages to bring together the seething patterns of op art -- a late-1960s movement that concentrates on optical illusions and color effects -- and the exuberant brushwork of the abstract expressionists. Her colors in "Pushed, Pulled, Depleted and Duplicated No. 8" (2003) have the bounce and twitch that happens in the eye when opposing colors are set close to one another. This color vibration (as it is called) is the hallmark of op paintings, and it is used to great effect here. Luminous blues and reds swirl around peachy-salmons that are further set off by turquoise and green sweeps of the brush.

Although obviously an abstract painting, the color tensions and the way the loops ride over one another make things seem to push in and out in an illusionistic way. Chinks of white, looking very much like the highlights on the head of a cartoon character, make the forms bulge further outward until they seem to threaten our own space. You can see into the squeezed-down space as well, something like looking through to the distance, past the coils of a very colorful snake.

It is a very dramatic and flamboyant painting. And it is also a little comic.

-- Richard Huntington

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