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"Landscapes: Near and Afar" 

When: May 28-July 6 2013
Price: free
Contemporary artists like to stretch the landscape category almost to the point of farce; “mental landscapes” and like metaphors find form in symbolism, abstraction, and other approaches to representation that would have dumbfounded the likes of Turner or Monet. This can be a good thing — it keeps a potentially rich category vital. Landscapes: Near and Afar, an eight-artist group exhibition now at Vessel Gallery, is certainly an argument for this conclusion. The works are varied, deep, and often stunning. Sanjay Vora creates marvelously textured seaside landscapes consisting of painted canvas veiled with a thick layer of meticulously scraped, fondant-like gray oil — a uniquely tactile mist. Walter James Mansfield, meanwhile, uses glossy, rust-orange-hued horizontal streaks that convey the essence of a particular time of day. The notion of a physical landscape is furthest removed in the photograms of Cheryl Calleri, which employ the historically surrealist method of image-making to produce haloed orbs, collaged with terrestrial topographies and galactic expanse. At once strange and distant, yet almost anatomically familiar, they are some of the more intriguing modern landscapes you’ll find. Landscapes: Near and Afar runs through July 6 at Vessel Gallery (471 25th St., Oakland). 510-893-8800 or Vessel-Gallery.com
— Alex Bigman

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