Even from outside the glass doors of DAX Gallery’s “Undeniable,” it’s apparent why the paintings displayed inside make Andrea Harris McGee’s “heart race” (quoting the show’s press release). Big ideas; artfully positioned larger pieces than we’re used to seeing outside of European museums, carefully presented beside smaller beauties; nine artists in total, including mentors, instructors and two upstarts who have just graduated. Inspired by the complex relationships among the group, Harris McGee celebrates their synergy in her first gig as DAX’s curator.
Cal State Fullerton professor Rebecca Campbell has two paintings on display, both of them marvelous: Ophelia (2013) is Shakespeare’s suicidal child-woman, sinking into a flowing river. Unfazed, her eyes reveal not a shred of panic, as a school of fish swim about her legs in a blue embrace. Dig, a shirtless man digging in the ground, has none of the classical perfection of the drowning woman: the brushstrokes aren’t perfect; there are blots and daubs of paint where the other has finely etched details; the musculature here is less realistic, blue and green mixed with pink, red and white; impressionistic streaky blue and red skies overhead. Nearby, Laguna College of Art + Design (LCAD) instructor F. Scott Hess’ paintings are more frankly narrative: Coyly displayed next to Ophelia, his Pale Horse’s nude black woman straddles a panicked equus as lightning crashes about them, her eyes closed, perfectly at peace, despite her vulnerability.