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Tom Cramer
at Laura Russo Gallery, Portland, Oregon
Recommendation by Richard Speer

Teeming with semi-abstract imagery of stars, flowers, tubers, and sinuous coils that evoke the folds of the brain, Tom Cramer’s paintings on carved wood relief are inspired by intricately carved Indian temples and the effulgence of 1960s-era psychedelia. Cramer first traveled to India in 1998 and returned to his native Portland brimming with ideas for the style he became known for:  mandala shapes, moody colors, botanical-derived abstraction, and luxuriant metallic leaf in silver, copper, and gold. It all evokes gilded Buddhas in Indian temples. The gilded “Soma” and “Attraction,” with their concentric squares and circles, are classic Cramer, but the artist also evolves in new directions. His pyrographic drawings have a broader range of imagery than in the past, from the claustrophobic abstraction of “Arranged-Deranged” to the looser, glittery sunbursts of “Pollination.” Then there is a brand-new body of work represented by “Scarlet Nebulae,” “Proportionlessness,” “Wet Fog,” and “Esalen.” In these pieces, fastidious patterns counterbalance sumptuous washes of pastels and earth tones, imbuing Cramer’s rough-hewn style with a more delicate sensibility that calls to mind Impressionist waterscapes. Across their range, the works marry obsessiveness of execution with an aggregate sensuosness that reaches for the transcendent

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