The merest touch is enough to give away the true artist, and Bryan Hunt shows himself to be one over and over in the show of his drawings, paintings and sculpture at Galerie Francoise.
Hunt is primarily a sculptor, and may be remembered for his cascading bronze called "The Cloak of Lorenzo" in the recent show "Going for Baroque" at the Walters Art Gallery. At Galerie Francoise, sculpture is limited to two small pedestal works, but we don't feel cheated. The paintings and drawings offer a grand sufficiency of rewards.
One has only to look at the drawing "January 1, 1990 #4" to see the elegance of Hunt's line and the economy of the means with which he creates a whole scene. A faint wash of color, a few fluid lines, a smudge of black to create a dark recess, and we have a picture that's perfectly satisfying if read as an abstraction, or as a Mary Cassatt-like picture of a woman at her dressing table.
Of the two large paintings here, "Albeto #6," with its black drawing over layers of white and a light peach color, suggests both dark and light interpretations of postmodernist reworkings of the past: It might be something as outrageous as graffiti defiling a fresco, or abstraction growing out of surrealism on top of the 18th-century's idyllic fantasies. One can make out a suggestion of a face here or a small creature there, but it's not necessary; Hunt's hand is so sure that his squiggles are every bit as interesting as squiggles pure and simple.
There's quite a bit of surrealism to be seen in these works, perhaps most obviously in "Pluros Horizon #1," which might as easily be titled "Figures in a Landscape." But there's older and younger art here, too, sometimes in the same work. "Black Falls XVII" reflects Hunt's interest in waterfalls (the subject of his two sculptures here), but the image is also a clothed Greek figure and a study of light peeking through dark that can recall Barnett Newman's drawings.
There's certainly an island in the painting "Island," though a strangely attenuated one surrounded by a land-and-waterscape studded with light.
Or is the whole thing an island, with a monumental seated male torso in the upper left? Ultimately it doesn't matter; the color, the line, the dynamics of shifting forms are more important than how any particular viewer reads them.
Hunt's two sculptures here, both of a cascade falling from an upper pool to a lower pool, look a little calculated at this scale, like maquettes for something much larger. Pictures of similar works on a monumental scale look like the effect is monumental as well, and whet the appetite for seeing them in the flesh.
What: "Bryan Hunt: Sculpture, Drawings, Paintings"
Where: Galerie Francoise, Green Spring Station, Falls and Joppa roads
When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, through March 5
Call: (410) 337-2787