In the Galleries: Andrew Millner at William Shearburn, closes December 23

Andrew Millner: Rose is a rose is a rose Starting with a digital drawing pad and a stylus, St. Louis-based Millner drafts meticulous renderings of leaves and other botanical subjects, then projects the drawings onto stretched raw linen and traces the lines with thick beads of paint, often straight from the tube. Millner's earlier work held fast to its source (down to every last serration and vein on a single leaf), but Rose finds him radically essentializing and abstracting the renderings in transferring them to canvas. Titled after the single hue in which it is painted — White Rose, Red Rose, Crimson Rose, etc. — each canvas exists somewhere between absolute adhesion to its muse (the rosebush) and the capacity to lose that grip entirely. Some sustain a crisp and conventional line quality, while others are set loose to drip to excess. The result is as texturally rich as piece of lace but with an overarching component of frenetic abandon — as though something has literally unraveled on the canvas. Every painting's tangle of sanguine thread embodies the rift that, we all imagine, separates the "real" from the wholly impressionistic. Again and again the rosebush returns, each time pitting a former conception of self against a startlingly new one. Through December 23 at William Shearburn Gallery, 4735 McPherson Avenue; 314-367-8020 or www.shearburngallery.com. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat.

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