Exuberantly colorful, masterfully crafted, and aesthetically abuzz with atmospheric mystique, Lizbeth Mitty’s paintings of luminous, opulent banquet halls are multisensory feasts. The artist’s trio of works on view in Repasts, subtly moody orchestrations of objects and light, pulse with stirring ambience and wryly satirical narrative thrust.
Multisensorially methodical is Mitty’s modus operandi. The painter hears sound in colors and sees color in sounds, and she channels the energetic spark of these crossed wires into her ranging palette choices and substantially physical, nimble processes. She prepares her generally large surfaces with washes, stains, and variably diluted pigment dispersions, then engages in controlled pours, drips, and delimiting interventions to establish a chromatic bedding and incipiently textural substrate for her compositions.
With settings in mind and faint underdrawings still in view, Mitty then works swiftly and intuitively to create now bleedingly liquid, now stringily solid linework and details not with brushes, rather by squirting admixtures of paint from small bottles. The resulting strata of saturated surface treatments, gestural mark making, and ultimately vivacious, drizzly delineations furnish Mitty’s compositions with a distinct formal stylistic – at once representationally precise and dynamically loose, painstakingly exacting and dazzlingly alive. The artist’s hand is wholly manifest, and the manual verve with which she paints is palpable in every form and facet of her effervescent works.
Mitty’s paintings effervesce latent narratives, too. The artist’s decorously envisioned settings are as implicitly literary, theatrical, and cinematic as they are indubitably, deftly pictorial. The three works in Repasts present similarly expansive visions of decadent, mysteriously spirited banquet halls from points of view that might be participatory, or maybe voyeuristic, or perhaps that of an omniscient narrator. The shuffling of chairs and clinking of tables being cleared are nearly audible in Grand Hall, a long horizontal work whose vivid palette consists of lemony yellows, purely bright and sometimes bluish whites, variably vibrant pinks and greens, and diffusions of lush rose golds. Here, we enter the scene between tables, and possibly late, for it looks as though breakfast or brunch has already been served and consumed – or maybe we’re entering right on time, reporting to duty as members of the cleanup crew.
In another long horizontal composition, Cormac McCarthy Homage, we look down at a table mid-meal, as suggested by the plates, silverware, glasses, pitchers, and carafes – and significantly, by the three books flanking three of the table settings, each displaying the title of a novel by the work’s eponymous author. The palette here is robust with deep crimsons and purples, creating an atmosphere virtually drunk on red wine. Although reading seems an unlikely activity in this ostensibly late-dinner setting, the moodily dramatic lighting registers at just the right levels to encourage lingering at the table for another chapter or two after dessert.
In Enter the Dragon, a square work suffused with lilacs and botanical embellishments, we encounter the scene just moments before lunch, before anything has been served, before silverware and napkins have been budged or soiled. In the back of this ostentatious, luxuriously fin-de-siècleroom, we see reflections of chandeliers in mirrors in which we may or may not want to see ourselves reflected. Nonetheless, we might not mind watching a dragon ravage the room’s sumptuousness and calm.
Notably absent in Repasts are the people who might’ve eaten, or might soon arrive to eat, the repasts in question. Indeed, the repasts themselves aren’t even present. Yet it is the very absence of these people and their presumably lavish meals that allows us to imagine them physically, socioeconomically, tragicomically, and perhaps even olfactorily and audibly. Repasts, multisensory feasts. Pull up a chair and indulge, synesthetes.
– Paul D’Agostino, Ph.D.