Greeting cards inevitably depict intertwined couples in silhouette, gazing at the ocean from a sandy beach.
Despite the cliché, something undeniably hard-wired into our beings elicits introspection when confronted by the deep and wide blue sea. That vast space dwarfs our existence and can unleash a profound melancholy, as in the lovely, existentially unsettling drawings in pastel chalk by Liana Repass on view at Mason Murer Fine Art.
Done on large sheets of paper up to 68 by 42 inches, Liana's photorealist drawings consist of close-up views of the rippling, infinitely varied, kinetic surface of the ocean. There is no horizon line, nor any other detail of landscape save the water itself, conveying impressions of exploration, vastness and romantic musing rather than enclosure.
Like New York artist Vija Celmins, who is an obvious influence (some might say too much so in the artist's choice of identical subject matter and technique), Repass is consumed by the ocean. Within its melancholy gray waves that are the color of angry storm clouds and indigo blues, her work inspires associations with finality and death and a romantic tradition deeply wedded to nature. Life undoubtedly teems beneath, but the ocean in Repass' work becomes an obliterating shroud.
Repass takes a consistent approach. The one image on display not of an ocean is an ethereal pencil drawing on vellum of dandelions, though not in their cheerful yellow stage. Repass draws them in their dying phase, as strands of easily scattered white fluff.
It is customary at most galleries to leave an artist's work up for the run of the show, but the buyers of three of Repass' total of eight works have taken their purchases home. It's a pity, not just for viewers who are now deprived of the opportunity to see the breadth of Repass' vision, but for the artist who needs to have her work seen by other buyers, patrons, curators, critics and art fans.
New Works from Liana Repass. Through April 14. Mason Murer Fine Art. Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., noon-5 p.m. 199 Armour Drive. 404-879-1500. www.masonmurer.com.