Castleberry Hill artist Diane Hause initially wanted to feature 30 years of her work at her Peters Street workspace and gallery. But she laughs that she didn’t have room in her 2,200-square-foot gallery.
Instead, the work in “20/50” covers a 20-year span in which Hause’s concerns have remained surprisingly unchanged. Whether in painting, collage, prints, drawing or assemblage, the Hause aesthetic endures.
Hause defines her self-retrospective with plenty of her jewel-toned, Matisse-ian nudes who, without clothes, become eternal symbols of male and female. Doves, horses, the pyramids, the Taj Mahal and other images reoccur to reflect a sensibility that stretches beyond the Judeo-Christian Western imagination. A new agey sensibility occasionally creeps into work that borrows from religious movements outside of the artist’s cultural comfort zone, such as Islam and Buddhism. But Hause’s obvious sincerity and earnestness shine through.
Her art feels as though the artist is using her work in a fundamental way, like crop circles on the ground or cave paintings on a wall, in hopes of communicating with someone or something larger than herself.
In the striking 1995 painting “Drawn & Quartered,” executed in her signature vivid hues, Hause seems to encapsulate the enigma of male-female relationships. The image is a mismatched puzzle of male and female interaction. A naked couple stands side by side in a gesture of intimacy, but the man is right side up and the woman upside down. They may fit together better in that configuration, but the possibility of communication is more difficult.
Hause often makes a better impression in such relatively austere, simple works than in the chaotic collages and epic-sized paintings loaded with jumbo-sized symbols. Her advocacy of the eternal, rather than the here and now, comes through in “20/50.” It’s just a shame that sometimes obvious, portentous iconography can mask the intelligence and wit of this artist’s journey, which becomes more clear when she interprets her painting “Civilization.”
She describes the piece as a statement on humankind’s progress. The 75-inch-by-95-inch painting boasts eternal mysteries like the Easter Island figures, and the pyramids. Then, at the top of the painting, is a ceiling fan — modern man’s contribution to civilization, Hause laughs.
— Felicia Feaster, for Creative Loafing