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Letters from Emptiness 

When: Feb. 16-May 4 2012

America is about stuff, to quote George Carlin, so emptiness seems somehow alien. In other cultures, however, nothing can mean literally everything. Eva Bovenzi interprets Shunryu Suzuki's concept of shosokuas "those moments of being jolted awake" when we intuit "the mystery of our existence." Her paintings depict crystalline or furled structures, "caught ... between appearing and dissolving," floating in deep, dark blue or black space. The opalescent forms, derived from "the structures of shells, chrysalises, webs, and jellyfish," are of indeterminate identity and scale. The transparent medium in which they float is equally multivalent, readable as "air, water, blood, the interior of the body, or cosmic space." The larger paintings, "Second Messenger," "Seventh Messenger," "From Blue #6," and "From Blue #22," invite empathetic identification more readily than do the smaller works. Letters from Emptiness runs through May 4 at Townsend Center for the Humanities (Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley). 510-643-9670 or TownsendCenter.berkeley.edu

— DeWitt Cheng

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