Sept. 11 attacks fuel artist's abstract paintings

Topeka artist Edward Navone doesn't use his paint and canvasses to tell stories. That's just not his style.

Instead, the longtime Washburn University art professor uses his drawings and paintings as metaphors for what's happening in the world. A number of the abstract works in his one-man show at the Lawrence Arts Center backs up that notion.

Abstract paintings and figurative drawings by Edward Navone will be on display through July 16 at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H. Gallery hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday (open until 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday when classes are in session).

"Some of them are related to 9-11 � faces with gritting teeth imbedded in something collapsing," he said, explaining the exhibit's link to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

While the series addresses a tragic event, the colors of his palette are vibrant: red, purple, brown, turquoise, green. Column-like shapes or vertical stripes and screaming faces show up in many of the paintings. Cross-hairs, like the ones seen in a camera's viewfinder or the scope of a rifle, also are recurring images.

"This suggests targeting, like someone is putting their ugly mark on it," he said.

A large painting at the other end of the gallery shows the busts of three emperor-like men falling off their pedestals.

"It's about authority � busts with pedestals collapsing underneath them," he said.

Navone begins his paintings by covering his canvasses with a mixture of acrylic paint and fine sand. He then uses a trowel like a pencil or brush to draw images in the paint, creating a relief-like effect.

"Texture is part of the theme, too," he said.

All of the paintings in the show are untitled, except one.

"Veronica" is his homage to a woman who died of brain cancer.

"She was a therapist at Menninger and a photographer," he said. "She was a very religious person."

Navone said the painting is "a graphic suggestion of what she looked like, with metaphors of the camera and the Biblical reference."

In addition to the abstract paintings, the exhibit also contains a number of Navone's representational drawings of the human form. Navone said he does not see the two styles as independent of each other and tries to transfer his draftmanship and classical training into his abstractions.

"I've always been preoccupied with drawing, since I was 2. I draw all the time," he said. "� In college I started doing portraits and I've never lost my passion for it. I could teach life drawing until I drop dead. (Drawing) has to do with some sense of conquering the real world."

Navone, who has taught art history and studio classes at Washburn since 1964, is on a sabbatical to Belgium, France and Italy this month.

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