DUANE PALUSKA Congress Street Gallery

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Excerpted Maine Sunday Telegram "In the Arts" review by Philip Isaacson, September 23, 2007

Duane Paluska a singular man of many talents.

In writing reviews, it can be difficult to separate the art from the artist. This is particularly so in the case of Duane Paluska.

He's a gallery owner, furniture maker, house builder as well as painter, sculptor and general aesthetician, and one area of his public persona flows gently into another. Formality, restraint, prompting by the classics are qualities common among them and each is apparent in Paluska's current show at June Fitzpatrick MECA. Entitled simply "Paintings and Sculpture," the event is so biographic that the viewer becomes engaged with the artist. There is a communion that I find enduring. Paluska remains a presence throughout.

The balance between the paintings and sculpture is exquisite. They speak the same language and the equality of weight that the artist allots to them is so finely achieved that the show is as much a homogenous installation as it is an opportunity to see recent work in two mediums, viz, in painting-collage and in wood-construction.

In the former--the two-dimensional work--Paluska draws upon the clarity and precision of classic geometric abstraction to engage the viewer but then, at the last moment, shifts the balance. Because the work initially adheres so closely to classic prescription, the viewer then struggles to bring it back into line. This adds the tension that lifts painting with such strict linear limits from an exercise in discrimination to one that has a dynamic inner life.

The artist's use of color can be a bold and generally successful participant in this process. It can also be so sedate as to become a calming influence--it reassures us that the artist is in control and thus adds to the emotional depth to his work.

The sculpture is as beautifully wrought as the paintings (which contain complex textural and perhaps material shifts) and like them is given to making certain invitations and then abruptly shifting and leaving the viewer to resolve expectations. Unlike the paintings, this requires more by way of intellectual adjustment than of an emotional shift. We are used to making great accommodation in two-dimensional work--Picasso and Braque resolved the issue for us almost a century ago--but sculpture is still expected to be less illusionist than, say, collage. Thus, Paluska's work in three dimensions requires a pause to allow the poetic intentions of the artist to replace the conventional expectations of the viewer. It can do that and once achieved the rhythms and poise of the pieces create a sense of self that is lyrical.

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