Art Lies, Volume 2, May-June 1994

"Paintings can abstract themselves from
narrative, without aandoning it," writes Don
Calledare. Certain his paintings, seen in the
shadowy nether-s ace behind/adjoining Cafe
Brasil, are neith abstract nor narrative. Far
from striking a del ate balance, Calledare's oil-
on-canvas pa ntin pursue the possibility of
narrative abstractiA in surreal epic landscapes.
Symbols, icons, and adopted images run amok:
water, cliffs and mountains, Viking-esque boats,
pre-Columbian sculptures, harlequins, hippies,
mazes, spitted and crucified horses, Egyptian
eyes, Hitlerjugend, volcanos, parades of
tortured fools, and Marlboro-men all come
together in a quasi-Wagnerian attempt to enact
a new-old mythology. A mythology that, like a
dream, is only half-remembered and half-logical.
The backgrounds of his paintings are rendered
in the hazy generic detail of a T.V. painting
teacher's landscape gone subtly awry, recalling
the barren wastelands of album-cover
psychedelia. Yet something works: a neural-
aesthetic contact high, a truly dreamy
disengagement. One finds oneself nodding in
agreement at what Calledare calls, "the
serendipitous and hypno-valent possibilities
inherent in Painting" (whatever they might be!).
Calledare's painted fantasies capture
terrifyingly seductive "possibilities." In Sewing
Shades near the oracle of Delerium (Cat's
cradle's loom), a Marlboro-man rides through a
portal of fire into a gorge filled with flayed
souls, laboring children, ancient artifacts, flying
cats, ... you get the picture. Hot yellows, blues
and reds streak across the Marlboro man's
rustic browns, golds, and whites. This is garish
sensory and semiotic overload. This painting, as
do a number of other works, overcomes
resistance to its own excess through its outright
intensity. It is beautifully painted. The scene is

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orks by
Fergus-Fernandes Gallery (CAFE BRASIL)
I February 12 - March 12
r ric Schwab
turgid and surreal without being coy
or clever; the representations are
neither punctilious, nor loose, nor
flippant caricatures. This restraint
coupled with visionary excess is
Calledare's strength.

Perhaps this work is correctly termed, as some call it,
"outsider art." Certainly Calledare's use of surreal symbolism
and fantasy landscapes in pursuit of "the nomadic and
counter-domestic image" could be seen as naive. Calledare
himself, however, seems to have abstracted his work from
such "insider's" pretensions without abandoning them. His
results are, indeed - fantastical. *

artl i e s RAPID RESPONSES

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Chandler, Wade & Schwab, Eric Jonah. Art Lies, Volume 2, May-June 1994. Houston, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth228035/. Accessed October 1, 2014.