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Los Angeles Times

February 23, 2001

“Above it All”


It’sIn drawing clouds in the sky, Hilary Brace assumes a feet-off-the-ground, free-floating perspective. She isn’t standing on terra firma looking up, like Constable or Stieglitz. Instead she’s above the clouds looking down, or in the clouds looking across, as if gazing out the window of an airplane. The feeling is less one of romantic yearning for something up there, out of reach, than it is full immersion in something stunning, primordial and elusive but immediately at hand.


The 15 marvelous cloudscapes at Craig Krull Gallery are meticulously drawn with charcoal on Mylar, which diffuses the light. No drawing is more than 5 or 6 inches on a side. Required concentration in viewing matches necessary concentration in their fabrication. The effect is one of elegant softness and intense clarity, in equal measure.


Brace’s gray clouds are as various as any earthbound natural landscape, from the Sahara Desert to the Rockies. But look for a while and an unexpected set of references floats into consciousness. Her sky-views can seem like microscope analyses of human tissue, pulsing heart valves, cranial excavations and alimentary canals.


The daydreaming pastime of reading pictures into passing clouds keeps turning inward, discovering bodily interiors. The limitless enormity of the sky is set against the contained intimacy of an inner universe, establishing a subtle tension. Like a Vija Clemins drawing made Baroque, Brace’s work conjures an ephemeral poetics of light and space. It is not the explosive light of spiritual revelation that bursts from behind the cloud banks in her exquisite drawings, but the quiet celebration of mystery that glows from within.


-Christopher Knight

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