Elizabeth Rees is more mature as an artist and her show Silent Stage at Artis Gallery is more consistent in subject.
Her paintings are very theatrical. Many of the figures emerge from a dark background and others strut their stuff on a curtained stage. They all wear patterned motley and often appear directly related to the costumes of the Italian Commedia dell’arte.
The theatrical costume works well when it is subtly shaded and brushed on in a way that suggests introverted characters. Other characters, clowns and jesters are dressed in costumes of precise stripes that are continued in the stage curtains around them. Though bright and colourful they convey much less ambiguity of character.
Among the moody figures who emerge from the dark is a Hamlet-like personality seen in profile. The title of the work is The Silent Critic, which has a potent feeling of a withdrawn personality. His eyes are shaded, which intensifies a sense of melancholy, while his carefully drawn fingers emphasise his sensitivity.
Some of the painting is particularly fine in handling and use of colour. In For Show, where the figure appears opening curtains on stage, the blue and green of his doublet is delightfully done.
The works that are more specific, such as The Illusionist and The Conjurer, are rendered more sharply and do not free the imagination in the way that the ambiguities of a statuesque figure, The Observer, does.
Everything in the show is colourful and charming but there are times in the midst of the colour that the mood deepens.