Balloon in the Thicket

Balloon in the Thicket

Tim Mahurin Dares You to Look Deeper

Editor's Note: Works by Tim Mahurin may be seen at both Gallery in the Woods locations in Brattleboro and Marlboro through the summer and fall.

When you approach Tim Mahurin's 18"x48" vertical painting "The Cow Jumped Over the Moon," there is a quick double take as you realize that it is an oil painting and not an intricate wood carving. At top center, like a crown chakra, is a glowing green dot resembling a polished stone or gem. The jade tone offsets the painting's palette, which resembles finished and oiled wood. As if looking into wood grain, you discover hidden pictures. A certain innocence must be assumed to discover these hidden images which shock, tantalize and amuse. Memories of a child's first sight of Hieronymus Bosch might be aroused, or of those moments in your youth when the focused contemplation of the intricacies and details of nature fascinated an innocent curiosity. Amidst the myriad illusive images interwoven, a large standing female figure flickers in and out of focus. Finally the eye, climbing through the totemic arrangement of picture parts, alights on the bovine aloft, emerging from the "grain," and the jade orb is recognized as the moon.

An untitled horizontal painting, about the same size, has a ground of pastel yellows, pinks and blues. It seems to allude in style to both the abstract expressionist Arshile Gorky and the Chilean surrealist Roberto Matta. The reference to both styles lies in gestural brush strokes, which suggest both organic shapes and more precise pictures or "picture parts" at the same time. These marks are simultaneously arranged in a sort of organic pattern which suggests a vast world within a microscopic cell, another dimension or a planet NASA has not been to yet. The painting is so loaded with hidden images that it seems to have as many pockets and nooks of information as the brain itself. In other words, it seems endless.

"Running Woman" is a work about anatomy. Hidden faces peek out of the crannies and laugh at the viewer, whose gaze swims through a maze of sensual anatomical shadows, navels and nipples. Larger figures appear and disappear as in a cubist painting. The palette of the picture is reminiscent of photos taken within the human body and takes the viewer on a journey through tissues and an anatomical interior, much like looking through the submarine window in the old TV show "Fantastic Voyage" or in the Disney animation of Bill Murray's interior in "Osmosis Jones."

"Matador" is 14"x18". The composition includes a texturous brushed "frame" that gives the painting the look of an antiquated art object, like gold leaf damaged over centuries of handling. The paint treatment and use of glazes in the painting's "inner realm" can't help but inspire ruminations on Renaissance artworks or on the care and craft of times long gone by. A small yet cavernous space is described in Dutch browns and deep reds. Light flickers over forms, illuminating hidden faces, old wizards' quizzical expressions and descriptive sensual shapes. The light is glowing and fiery, the memories are ancient and the discoveries are whimsical. And the matador is there, waving his cape in a red flick of the brush.

There is one graphite work on paper which makes avid references to certain surrealist artists. One might recall Max Ernst's obsession with birds' heads or M. C. Escher in the contrasty and mazelike reflection and suggestive description. The Moebius spacial quality is peppered with small de Kooningesque slashes, and the background is an intricate study of textural pattern. The drawing is framed like a painting (without glass) and is entitled "Balloon in the Thicket" (pictured above).

The artist, Tim Mahurin, has lived in Brattleboro since he began crystallizing his vision ten years ago. He did not exhibit his work until last year, when he first participated in a group show at the Common Ground Gallery. This current exhibition, at the eclectic and earthy Gallery in the Woods, features work dating back to the late '90s. Mahurin works on a painting for a period of weeks or months. The genesis of his style did not come through painting explorations but rather as a more appropriate form of expression than the carving he had been doing earlier, when he sold six sculptures of "whales, dolphins, etc." to the international organization Greenpeace.

Indeed, the experience which Tim Mahurin's paintings convey is much like how he remembers his youth, wandering amongst tidal pools on the seacoast and searching for fossils in the desert. It is the spontaneous excitement which accompanies the surprise of discovery. Do you dare?

Copyright 2003, Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont

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