New York

Valentina Dubasky

Without the slightest hint of overt pedagogy, Valentina DuBasky—an artist known for her evocative magical realist style featuring totemic animal images and lushly colored surfaces—has succeeded in conveying the critical need to preserve the tenuous ecological balances that guarantee the survival of life. Consider the collagelike structure that serves to bind content and form in paintings such as Rainforest, 1990, Indonesia, 1990, Nature and T Cells, 1991, and Blue Meander, 1991. Recalling ancient Egyptian painting as well as Persian manuscripts, the organization into flat interlocking sections gives the compositions an almost rebuslike appearance. However decorative the dark and light contrasts in Rainforest or the fluent rhythmical passages of blues, reds, and greens in Indonesia, the constructive handling of scale and opacity produce a decidedly enigmatic atmosphere. There is something wonderfully provocative about the different degrees to which the birds in the painting Indonesia are depicted as “being there,” ranging in handling from a transparent void to, in the case of the large blue crane, a flaking solid. This effect of fading in and out helps to create a vivid sensation of movement, suggesting a cyclical condition wherein time and place vary, but processes of growth and rebirth remain constant.

Both in the bird paintings and those in which a variegated flora is highlighted, the viewers witness an organic evolution. Paintings like Nature and T Cells and Blue Meander, both of which contain the cellular symbol for drugs manufactured from plants farmed from the world’s tropical rainforests by the pharmaceutical industry, invited viewers to take on a participatory role to the extent that information—here the fact that lifesaving drugs come from the rainforests—promotes heightened awareness, and heightened awareness, in turn, promotes action.

Ronny Cohen