Artist Scott Belville is known for what you might call Southern magic realism. His naturalistic interiors or landscapes are stage sets on which characters — simultaneously familiar and strange — engage in mysterious, open-ended narratives. The drawings and paintings in “Trust,” his fine solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, are cases in point.
The 19 drawings and prints in Belville’s “Curbside” series, set in what could be the outskirts of a Georgia town, appear to be stream-of-consciousness musings on life’s passing show. A bulldozer in the background suggests encroaching development. Televangelist Jimmy Swaggart and former President George W. Bush make appearances. Most references are enigmatic. One would be hard pressed to discern, for example, that the fire blazing in a barrel (or from a barbecue grill), which appears in every variation, is Belville’s oblique reference to the Twin Towers terrorist attack, the impetus for the original painting.
The feelings of vulnerability and impotence engendered by the attacks seem to drive, as well, the post-apocalyptic landscapes of Belville’s “Flood/Drought” series. Their proportions and shallow perspective suggest a predella, the lower panel of the Renaissance altarpieces that the artist studies during his annual summer teaching gig in Cortona, Italy. Even more sparsely populated than the “Curbside” landscapes, these richly detailed and subtly tinted naturalistic drawings suggest Cormac McCarthy’s bleak novel “The Road.”
To read my complete review, which appeared in the AJC, click here.