Review: ‘Subatomic Compassion’ achieves artist’s goals at Nth Degree Gallery

Michael Bragg

The Nth Degree Gallery, located at 683 W. Kings Street, is exhibiting Kent Paulette's artworks under his pseudonym Derfia for the month of October. The show, named Subatomic Compassion, includes a variety of paintings. Olivia Wilkes| The Appalachian Editor’s Note: The following reflects the opinions of the author.

Kent Paulette, who paints under the pseudonym Derfla, has a new exhibition featured at Nth Degree Gallery in Downtown Boone that was unveiled at October’s First Friday Art Crawl.

Paulette has shown his work across Boone in various commercial settings, but this is his first gallery showing of non-commissioned work.

“This is just my work in a gallery and more of the work that I like to paint,” Paulette said. “The Nth Gallery doesn’t have to be for commercial purposes, it’s more for art and the ideas behind it.”

He said that the initial showing went well and that “people were seeing the work on a lot of different levels.”

“Some people would just talk about the image and others would get at the concept behind it, so there was a wide range of that and I’m happy with how that turned out,” Paulette said.

The collection, titled “Subatomic Compassion,” features a variety of his recent work focused on the concept of juxtaposition of emotions.

“I have these images of seduction next to images of poverty and suffering,” Paulette said. “I’m hoping to elicit compassion in the viewer. The subatomic and the physics stuff is what I see as the solution to that issue that I raise.”

On the whole, the work appears both simplified and complicated. Paulette’s distinct style of piling layers of paint upon each other to create thick, stylized textures adds a third dimension to the work.

Paulette’s work tricks the eye into creating images where there are none to the effect of seeing the art through a colorful cloud. While at times this effect is seen as dirty or chaotic, the effect ultimately adds an almost dream-like sense to the subjects.

This sense is heightened through the intentional juxtaposition of the placement of the pieces themselves.

Images like that of a weeping Indian chief directly next to a nude woman with a whip creates a strange sense of uneasiness in viewers. As a result, this collection isn’t as pretty as it is thought provoking – a stark contrast to Paulette’s other work consisting mainly of landscapes, pet portraits and other commissioned works.

Paulette ultimately achieves his goals of compassion through unintentional means.

The inconsistent variety of subject matter – mainly consisting of nude women, combined with the varying styles of the purely abstract next to the concrete – makes the viewer very aware that they are looking at a lot of paintings rather than a consistent body of work. While it is difficult to connect to these works individually, as a whole the collection brings about an emotional reaction through the flow of the pieces and their juxtaposition.

For anyone wishing to further view the work, Paulette will be at the Nth Degree Gallery Friday from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. to answer questions and speak with viewers. The gallery is located at 643 W. King St.

Rating: Three and a half out of four stars

Story: LOVEY COOPER, A&E Reporter

Photo: OLIVIA WILKES, Senior Photographer