12Gallery 208 opens its first exhibit of the new year with States of Mind: Paintings by Angela Stout on Jan. 19.

A painter, printmaker and sculptor, Stout is an artist who chooses to investigate the portrait as a subject in her work. Visitors to the exhibit will experience a less obvious theme as the likeness of each individual dissipates into moments of discovering our humanity — one portrait at a time.

Seeing a body of work by Stout is a palatable experience, a contradiction between the physicality of paint and illusion — feelings are conjured. We experience each work as a comprehensible moment; although abstracted, the artist evokes an emotion, something familiar.

Stout practices the art of camouflage. We are enamored by the skills to create a likeness, yet a feeling emerges from the artist’s manipulation of material, illusion and the physical. An image on canvas or paper has the potential to evoke a type of certainty, often a dichotomy.

In the painting titled “Deterioration,” a fair-haired young woman looks intently at the viewer through the lens of a yellow-green filtered pictorial environment.
The surface of the 36”x 36” painting on canvas has been deliberately scratched, the surface marred in a way that the flat illusionistic layers of paint physically separate away from the painted surface.
The marred mark-making begins to move across the figure — color and paint are released from the surface — the figure remains motionless. A feeling emerges as we experience the physicality of the paint in contrast to a transfixed illusionary figure suspended in spatial disorder.

Seeing “Deterioration” viewers will have their own interpretation of meaning. For me, Stout has created a situation, and I find myself responding with empathy to the fixed figure in the painting, I feel moved to say “just breathe.”

In comparison, the artist limits herself to the talent of illusionistic painting to evoke meaning in the blue painting titled “O.” Duality is present. Stout has masterfully created hard and soft at the same moment.

We experience the hardness of cold in contrast to the soft supple flesh of the individual. The figure exists in a state of contrast: grace and hardship, obscurity and specificity, flatness and texture.

“O” is an example of how the artist balances the theoretical and the emotional. The artist explained how she created a technical problem to resolve. 12a

“In this painting, it was to focus on balancing the achromatic with the chromatic, without it being noticeable. Since emotion is central to my work, it was important to create a feeling of coldness, an emotional or physical aspect of being cold.”

We naively enjoy Stout’s work without knowing a process has always taken place to resolve a complicated technical order. If we look closely at the painting titled “Suppression,” the order is more obvious. A male figure stretches the edge of an American flag across his face just below his eyes. As he gazes upward the softness of the flag hangs below his clenched hands.

Examining the technical, we see that the young man is painted in tones of grey, whereas the flag is painted in saturated colors. The red and blue are in strong contrast to the greys. The implied diagonal movement of the stripes and arms directs us to the eyes as a focal point. The white of the background, stars and stripes are flattened patterns. Without spatial reference, the white is strategically used as composition, but also holds the figure between foreground and background.

An extensive exhibition record, “Suppression” was exhibited in an international online competition in Milan, Italy, in 2020. Collaborating with photographer Neysa Wellington, the M.A.D.S. Milano competition call for art was to celebrate the art of photography and how photography is a resource for painters.

In the exhibit, Wellington’s photograph was exhibited with Stout’s interpretation of Wellington’s photograph. The result for Stout was the painting titled “Suppression.”

At the height of COVID, Wellington and Stout’s submissions were accepted; both were part of the online exhibition, their works projected outside the gallery on monitors during the epidemic. Visitors to States of Mind will see a body of work by a well-known local painter but also an artist who regularly creates prints.

12bOriginally from Warren, Ohio, Stout is a disabled veteran who lives in Broadway, North Carolina, and has soared to success after completing a four-year art degree in 2020. After earning an Associate Degree in Visual Art from Fayetteville Technical Community College, she completed a Bachelor of Art in Studio from Fayetteville State University.

Upon leaving the university, Stout had already developed a clear path for the direction of her works of art.

She stated: “All my art focuses on evoking feeling. I focus on the portrait, but they have underlying social themes. In addition to the philosophical concerns in my work, I maintain a romantic view of beauty in the world around me.”

After completing six art history courses in her program of study, Stout was also clear on those artists, living and deceased, who would influence her own work.

Stout commented, “I am connected to modern and historical art methods. My love of painting is inspired by Baroque artists Michelangelo Caravaggio and Rembrandt. Other major historical influences are Henry Ossawa Tanner and John Singer Sargent. Modern influences are Gerhard Richter, Kehinde Wiley, and Cindy Sherman.”

The newest works by Stout are regularly exhibited at the Cape Fear Studios in Fayetteville.

Stout teaches what she has learned about painting and clay modeling in the continuing education program at Fayetteville Technical Community College. In her filled painting classes, students learn what visitors to Gallery 208 will see: Stout understands the properties of color and how to apply them in a work of art. The public is invited to attend the opening reception for an artist whose work always tells us something about ourselves and the world around us.

When visitors to the Gallery spend time with the work, they will come to understand how the paintings by Stout go far beyond a relative or exact likeness of an individual. Stout’s work, like any good work of art, is in the work’s potential to tell us something about our culture in an enlightening and collective context.

States of Mind: Paintings by Angela Stout opens on Jan. 19 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Gallery 208. The exhibit will remain up until March 24. The Gallery is located at 208 Rowan Street in Fayetteville. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information call 910-484-6200.

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