Eric Stotik
PDX Gallery

604 NW 12th, 222-0063 Through March 3

For fifteen years, local artist Eric Stotik has dazzled viewers with paintings rich in imagination and technical aptitude. His current offering at PDX gallery does not disappoint.

The images are born from a range of influences, including surrealist symbolism and rendering accented by both classical and comic book styles. The small panels offer oblique, yet provocative narratives. Stotik does not provide titles or the traditional artist statement. Instead, he relies on the viewer's imagination to attach stories to the detailed images presented.

In one of the most compelling panels, Stotik highlights a moment of catastrophe. A cast of unusual characters is positioned in an industrial setting. A background littered with warehouse buildings is consumed in brilliant red flames. The fire peels away sections of building surfaces to reveal layers of bricks, dry wall and wooden supports. Through burnt-out holes, a vivid blue sky appears, tainted by a plume of smoke. The firelight casts a pinkish glow on building fragments scattered on the ground. The cause of the disaster is not clear, and gestures made by three figures within the scene only add to the mystery.

A man stands facing the fire. Dressed in a swank brown suit with matching fedora he resembles a Dick Tracy character. Though his face is not visible, he appears attentive to a figure standing near him. A man sporting a bright green suit is the only character to reveal his face to the viewer. Strangely his head is the only element of the painting not rendered in sharp detail. Similar to a Francis Bacon figure, the man's head is dramatically blurred. It is apparent, however, that the man casts a wary glance towards a menacing figure upstage. A man wearing a crisp, blue uniform stands squarely on a wooden porch. He dons a matching cap marked by a swan-like insignia. His posture and appearance exude an air of police or military presence. His identity is clouded as he takes aim at the viewer through binoculars.

What is going on here? What does it all mean? A level of psychological tension is present throughout the exhibit, though the exact nature of the conflict is undefined. The mischievous artist taunts the viewer with secrecy. The panel is merely a film cell from Stotik's ongoing, Technicolor epic- and the viewer is left to sift through the David Lynchian impulses and tease out a caption for the fantastic scene.

Note: The rarely interviewed artist will speak with Radio host Julie Bernard of KBOO (90.7 FM) on Thursday, Feb. 15, 10:30 a.m.