Nancy Depew


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On Display
by Eric Gibson

Excerpts from:
The Washington Times
Washington, DC, October 4, 1990

Nancy Depew's show at the David Adamson Gallery is like the answer to a problem. How is one to revitalize figurative painting and make it a credible vehicle for ideas and feelings.

Miss Depew's answer is to pare it down and isolate its essentials. They consist of single nude figures set in interiors in poses that at first seem unnatural but quickly reveal themselves as expressive of varying emotions: fear, anguish, contemplation.

In a certain way, Miss Depew's work resembles a representational version of the paintings of the noted English artist Francis Bacon. He too paints isolated, emotionally charged figures. But aside from the obvious difference that Mr. Bacon is essentially an abstract painter whereas Miss Depew is figurative, there is a difference in tone.

Mr. Bacon's penchant for the sheer theatricality overwhelms anything he might be able to say through the medium of paint. Miss Depew, while courting the same rhetoric owing to gestures she makes her models adopt, never lets it get out of control, no doubt because of discipline imposed by accurately depicting her subjects.

There is another difference. Miss Depew has a larger ambition than Mr. Bacon. By posing them the way she does, she makes her figures function as more than studies, implying larger, if indeterminate, narratives.

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