The Boston Herald December, 1984

Bertulli's art captures the joy of the season

By Nancy Stapen

A VASE on a table, an ornate chair, a bountiful bouquet. In the hands of Catherine Bertulli these objects are transformed from the merely pretty to the delightfully exhuberant. (At Barbara Krakow Gallery, 10 Newbury St., through Jan. 10.)

 

Bertulli's watercolors are openly celebratory. that in itself is a breath of fresh air in tthe angst-filled storms that rage through so much of contemporary art . Instead of anger, Bertulli offers wit. Instead of despair, she creates joyous color. Frankly decorative, these oversized watercolors recall the flat blocky shapes and animated spirit of Matisse, the clarity of the American Master Milton Avery, and the generosity and feminine concerns of Georgia O'keeffe.

 

Her objects are consistently placed in the middle of the page, occupying center stage. They're greatly enlarged at the top, but exaggeratedly narrow at the bottom. The effect is one of internal energy exploding upward toward the edge, like a fabulous, irrepressible new shoot on a plant.

 

Assymetrical focus is one of the many art school "rules" Bertulli gleefully - and successfully-abandons. She also outlines her forms, traditionally a definite "no-no."

 

She chooses subjects considered feminine, embrassing supposedly inferior themes _ a friend redecorating her apartment, the fashionable flitter of a swank show salon- with enthusiasim, energy and love (an ingredient conspicuously absent from much current art.)

 

Bertulli's love affair is with art making. She communicates an intense pleasure in color, patterns, and texture, and above all with the people associated with her things_ one of whom is (including herself).

 

Occasionally these works end up being too full. Bertulli crams them with too much pattern, or the color gets muddy and over-worked. One senses the artist's awareness of and struggle with this problem. It's a minor flaw in these otherwise buoyant images, whose whimsey enhances both art and life. It's the perfect show for the holidays, for it captures the authentic yet elusive joys of the season.