January 27, 2013

Art Review: The economy and eloquence of Lois Dodd


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click image to enlarge

“Woods with Falling Tree,” 1977.

Courtesy of Portland Museum of Art

“Door, Staircase,” 1981.

Courtesy of Portland Museum of Art

Additional Photos Below



WHERE: Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Square

WHEN: Through April 7

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday COST: $12; $10 for seniors and students with ID; $6 for ages 13 to 17; free for ages 12 and under; free for all after 5 p.m. Fridays

INFO: 775-6148; portlandmuseum.org

Dodd probably most stands out as a colorist, but her visual intelligence shows best in her endemic dovetailing of spatial structure with surface design.

The only works I haven't cottoned onto are the large compositions with multiple nudes. Yet with them, Dodd is following my all-time favorite painters -- Matisse, Cezanne and Manet -- so maybe I just don't get them yet.

One of Dodd's greatest inspirations appears to be early Mondrian; specifically, Mondrian's trees.

"Catching the Light" is punctuated by 14 of Dodd's usual tiny panels. Two of these show the same plum tree in 2012 and 2008. The later piece enters the image from the trunk and twists off into the composition through space, color and light. The earlier image maps out its own formal surface stroke by stroke, like a musical map of the surface punctuated by spaces Dodd put back into the shadow/horizon line. I could look at this pair for hours.

Dodd's no-nonsense approach is free from fanciful affect. Seemingly effortlessly, like that good armchair, her art shows us that the everyday world is a place of worthy and intelligent beauty. Underlying it all is Dodd's practical, dedicated and work-attained Maine art ethic; after all, that chair has a job to do.

Lois Dodd is a great painter. "Catching the Light" makes that clear.

Freelance writer Daniel Kany is an art historian who lives in Cumberland. He can be contacted at:



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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

“Little Plum Tree,” 2008.

Courtesy Alexandre Gallery/Portland Museum of Art

click image to enlarge

“Kaga Plum,” 2012.

Courtesy Alexandre Gallery/Portland Museum of Art


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