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Joanne Kent at Gallery K
By Ferdinand Protzman
Washington Post

February 18, 1999

Joanne Kent has been exploring the boundary between sculpture and painting in recent years, applying so much oil paint, wax and plaster to panels or canvas that the surfaces become an endless landscape of little peaks and pitlike valleys. Unfortunately, the tactile appeal of those rough textures has often seemed to be about all her paintings had to offer.

But that is not the case in her luminous exhibition of new paintings at Gallery K. The difference is color—warm, radiant and brilliant.

Instead of the blacks, browns and other muted hues that Kent was using a few years ago, her new works have rich, vibrant shades of blue, red, yellow and orange that bring the rough surfaces to life with a wealth of associative possibilities.

"Deep Form Two," for example, is dominated by a subtle blending of blue and aquamarine. Because of the colors, the large rectangular form can be viewed as an azure patch of tropical sea or a window onto a cloudless summer sky or simply an alluring abstraction.

The harmonious blending of color and texture also gives Kent's paintings a meditative quality, a fuzzy, Zenlike illogic. Whether prolonged viewing would result in enlightenment is open to question, but her colorful mantras are a refreshing change from the contrived feeling of some of her previous work.