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reception december 5th 6-9 pm

ENCOUNTERS IN THE BONE GARDEN Drama, mystery, and the duet between the sensual and the sinister— these are the keys to the world that Ray Donley’s artworks unlock. For the past 25 years, Donley has been conjuring the elegantly enigmatic characters who inhabit his ongoing series of psychologically charged portraits, Los bien perdidos (The profoundly lost ones). While these narratives exist outside the normal parameters of time and place, the artist’s meticulous technique, luxuriant brushstrokes, and richly layered surfaces harken to the Italian Baroque, when masters such as Caravaggio used theatrical contrasts of light and shadow to heighten the impact of composition and content. In the paintings, drawings, mixed-media pieces, and assemblages that comprise Donley’s Encounters in the Bone Garden at Gallery Bienvenu, he deploys the virtuosity that has made him a fixture in prestigious collections around the world. “The world of shadows,” he explains, “is more compelling to me than the bright light of day, which holds no secrets. When we peer into the darkness, we have to be on alert; we have to listen. We’re more excited, because we don’t know what’s going to happen.” To portray this realm of shadows and intrigue, he draws upon his studies of art history, in which he has earned two degrees, and his travels throughout Europe and Latin America. From Caravaggio and fellow 17th Century masters such as Velazquez and Rembrandt, Donley learned the impact of moody, undefined backgrounds, which throw subjects—and their inner lives—into greater relief. The extraordinary faces that populate his canvases, panels, and works on paper are not drawn from live models. Donley, unlike the Old Masters, aims not to elucidate the mindset of a particular sitter, but to engage the mind and fantasies of the viewer. “I want the viewer to complete the image,” he says. And in fact, many of his collectors report that the figures in his paintings seem to change expression from one day to the next, reflecting their own ideas and emotions. With their alchemy of darkness, humor, and ambiguity, these romantic visions invite us to step outside the boundaries of everyday experience and explore realms that would be hidden from view, were it not for the power of art. Richard Speer

Exhibition Dates: December 3rd, 2009 – January 30th, 2010 Reception: December 5th 6 – 9 pm Front Cover: Figure With Black Cap, oil on canvas, 12" x 9", 2009

Figure with White Cap, oil on canvas, 24" x 24", 2009

Nude with Black Mask, oil on canvas, 28" x 28", 2009

El Perdido, oil on canvas, 20" x 16", 2009

Figure with Yellow Cap (No. 3), oil on canvas, 24" x 24", 2009

Duende (No. 25), oil on canvas, 24" x 24", 2009

518 julia street, new orleans, la 70130

Figure with Knife (detail), oil on canvas, 48" x 40", 2009



Ray Donley | Encounters in the Bone Garden  

December - January 2010

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