As an artist famous for his controversial works involving preserved dead animals, Damien Hirst would seem the last one to be chosen to produce works for a meditation pavilion at the private home of an esteemed Palm Beach collector. But "The Bilotti Paintings," a series of four monumental masterpieces based on the gospels of the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are strong evidence of Hirst's spiritual power. The four, currently on display at the Norton Museum of Art, are his second attempt at the commission created exclusively for the now-abandoned home of Carlo F. Bilotti in 2004. Hirst's vaguely figurative, abstract assemblages combine essential and meaningful elements of various influences. His use of handwritten Latin verses from the gospels of the evangelists on the side panels of the canvases is reminiscent of early Renaissance religious paintings. The narrow mirrors nestled in the margins of the framework of each piece reflect the text to the viewer, suggesting modernist influences. Hirst's glossy, monochromatic canvases, suggestive of the painterly Color Field artists, are saturated with powerful hues: a rich, dirty brown for Matthew; a deep, sorrowful blue for Mark; a thick, bloody crimson for Luke; and a vibrant, penetrating teal for John. Contemporary icons of faith and resolution, pills and razor blades, juxtaposed with the natural beauty of real butterflies pinned to the canvas facing every which way, as if in flight, create a significant statement about the current state of humanity and man's continuous struggle to maintain faith. (Through March 26 at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach. Call 561-832-5196.)
Now on Display
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The dark, tattoo- and graffiti-influenced work of art student Patrick Maxcy covers a wall of the hallway leading to Florida Atlantic University's Schmidt Gallery, now presenting "Picturing Florida." It's an interestingly intimate segue from the expansive surrounding campus to the almost bare gallery where artists-in-residence Ellen Harvey and Marc Dean Veca have created their individual but associated wall pieces comprising "Picturing Florida." Veca painted a colorful, large-scale, surfboard-shaped piece in a very Dr. Seuss-like style, spanning two adjoining walls and adding considerable dimension to the gallery. His digitally designed painting Strangler references Florida with not only its shape but through mossy-green twisted vines that allude to the native strangler fig, with several not-so-subtle Disney logos and a background of puffy pink clouds and blue skies added to the mix. Harvey's wall installation takes a corner of the gallery but on a much smaller scale. She alternates 80 small paintings of photos submitted by local senior citizens with mirrors to create a checkerboard effect. The paintings of one half represents "Ugly Florida," the other "Beautiful Florida," and the mirrors always reflect the viewer. (Through April 18 at FAU's Schmidt Gallery, 777 Glades Rd., Boca Raton. Call 561-297-2966.)