Longtime Atlanta artist Cornel Rubino pits man Against Nature in a group of watercolors on view at the Swan Coach House Gallery this month. Spare compositions feature bust-like heads in profile battling insects, birds, snakes and fish. Their tug o' wars mean to represent the contest of art vs. agenda.
The artist debates an important issue in contemporary art, one that's sadly been around for years. In theory, Rubino argues that there's a need for art that surpasses issues. The orange, lavender, blue and violet tinted images do manage a bit of viewer discomfort. We see a girl swallowing a bird whole, two figures fighting by mouth over a small fish, a grasshopper meeting its demise, and so on. But in making such a visual statement, does the artist contradict his premise? The translucent, simplistic imagery evokes a craving for depth, more of a plunge into beauty.
In the front entrance, Rubino shares a lithograph series from a few years ago that plays with the Pythagorean theory. The hand-painted prints revel in religious, psychological, comic and romantic links to the number three. More complex in content and design, those works better illustrate the artist's talent for pairing intellect with the pleasure of artifice.
Against Nature continues through March 3 at the Swan Coach House Gallery, 3130 Slaton Drive. Tues.-Sat 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 404-233-2012.