The Belmont Hotel and What’s Not on the Canvas

Artist Fannie Brito with Urban Art & Antique's Eric Miller

The new art show “Fannie Brito: Mixed Emotions,” curated by Ro2 Art Gallery, takes a new venue in the trendy Belmont Hotel. It was a somewhat unusual venue for an art show, but none-the-less the perfect setting for an evening out.

Designed by Charles Stevens Dilbeck, a local architect in 1946, the sculpted cliff built from 8,000 cubic yards of earth and rocks, is situated to take advantage of stunning city views. The original motor court hotel was renovated in 2005 and instills funky energy into a historical setting. Besides free movie screening and outdoor concerts with the backdrop of Dallas skyline, the hotel also features contemporary art installation approximately every six weeks. And so we found ourselves here looking at the introspective work of a gifted artist.

For those who climbed up the terrace stairs for the opening reception of her solo art show yesterday night and were first greeted by the glowing urban sunset, Fannie Brito’s abstract paintings provide a counter balance point. Expressive yet controlled, layered with gestural vine-charcoal drawing and occasionally script and text (in Spanish), these paintings play with the flow of sub-consciousness and invite explorative close examination of the delicacy in weight, space, colors and light.

A transplant to Dallas, and a resident for nearly two decades, Fannie wore a cool black dress and came off as vivacious adding considerable energy to the room. She was not shy in answering a number of questions we threw at her, and gave insight about her medical training and how it influences her art. One can get the hint from a few paintings in the show in which charcoals left the traces of medical devices. Fannie told us she started from representational style when she was young, drawing figures. Moving to the abstract enables her to explore and experiment during the painting process. In her own words, although she roughly knows what to paint at the beginning, things may change quickly. The charcoal drawing, which may have been conceived earlier, is always added in the later stages. If, according to the title of the exhibition, the lines and mass of the charcoals were driven by the emotion, she chose when to call it “enough” by intuition. Stepping back and looking, she said, there was a moment that you know adding more will ruin it.

RO2 Gallery’s Jordan Roth and Susan Roth Romans

Perhaps the most interesting insight from the conservation is about how abstract painters have to constantly fight against the tendency of overly narrative or representational. To transfer a sparkling idea rooted in some visually available subject, she would erase, smudge or distort the form. What’s more, she doesn’t want her constructive process and creative ideas easily perceptible to viewers, thus she added more layers to distract neutralize or negate the previous one, resulting a rich context with more interpretive angles.

There’s may be as much not there as appears on one of her canvases. See for yourself at the Belmont Hotel in Dallas through November 29.

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