Doodling the essence of things

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Opening reception for "New works by Max Damore" 6 to 9 p.m. tonight TEI Modern Contemporary Gallery in the Torian Plum Plaza 879-2240.

Max Damore paintings are like mazes that you follow with your eyes. The lines wind around each other and fold into the shapes of figures or scenery. They play across the canvas like musical notes leaving the bell of a horn. They creep across the canvas like a sloth along a branch. They capture the things that Max Damore sees and hears -- a shape, a song, a moment with his wife.

His paintings are full of invented characters. The painting "Spawn" attempts to break down the origin of his figures, often only recognizable through the round curve of what could be a face or an arm. "Spawn" is a stripped-down image of one of his characters as it might appear, uncluttered, in the womb.

A new body of Damore's work will have its debut this weekend in his first one-man show since he started painting. Most of the work on display was created in the past three months.

In his painting "Dream," Damore tried to create a feeling of elation using an abstracted image of a man holding balloons. It represents the feeling he gets while working on a canvas, he said.

Damore's neo-cubist style of images dissected and reassembled according to shape and color began to develop in college.

"I took art classes in high school because they were easy," he said. "I always drew, but there wasn't any real challenge in drawing things exactly as they were."

He went to school at Western Michigan Univ-ersity, majoring initially in graphic design. Among his prerequisites was a "dreaded painting class."

Instead of setting up a still life for her students to paint, Damore's professor gave him a 30-by-30-inch blank canvas and told him to make a painting. He took the canvas home and started drawing.

"What I drew was just a doodle, but when I painted it and put color on it, it came to life," he said. "Right then, I was set free. I realized that maybe this was my voice."

Damore has been using the same principles of shape, color and movement in his paintings for 12 years since discovering their potential in that notebook doodle.

But he has learned to incorporate form and meaning into his shapes.

"I'm still trying to capture the essence of things. I'm inspired by so many things, a shape or a sound, a feeling or a moment," he said.

T o view more of Damore's work, visit www.maxdamore.com.

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