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Review: George Long’s beautiful, surprising mysteries, at Marcia Wood Gallery

George Long: "Echo"

George Long, the innovative master chef of his Good Food Truck, enhances his reputation as a many-talented artist with several surprises in “Mimic,” at Marcia Wood Gallery through June 9. This intriguing series of works on paper, which represents a new mixture of printmaking and painting, is as focused and evocative as Long’s work has ever been.

George Long's "Echo"

He starts with snapshots of his children engaged in various activities. He makes line drawings of the figures using a process called direct trace, which enables him to transfer and reuse the images multiple times. Each of the successive pieces starts from individual parts of the preceding one. Long adds new images as well. Other, older males show up and then vanish again as the series progresses. So do water towers (different ones), which put in an appearance as background elements, printed in hotter color amid the prevailing black and white.

Upwards of 18 transfer prints are involved in this process. The images become fainter, the line more degraded, with each succeeding copy. A coating of a thin wash of white plaster further obscures them.

It would take considerable time to discern the story line of these works, which Long describes as dealing with human motives and behavior. As he remarks, the figures might be the same child at different moments or different children trying to imitate one another.

Long's "Ape"

He is just as interested in the idea of translation, the transference of information. One of the paintings is overlaid with 70-year-old newspapers, which represent a literal inheritance from previous generations. This theme of inherited action and gesture becomes more metaphoric as the series progresses.

It is all intriguing and mysterious. The elusive, poetic quality of this body of work is distinctive in an oeuvre that has always been wildly metaphoric but often in-your-face in its presentation of juxtaposed imagery. It may be the most beautiful as well as the most understated work Long has undertaken.

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