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Art Review

Art Review: Ray Turner Population

The portraits of California-based artist Ray Turner engage viewers with their direct gaze and thick, luscious strokes of oil paint that rest on top of 12-by-12-inch panels of glass.

Turner’s “head paintings”—as he calls them—have a candid, impressionistic quality. Small distortions of color and facial features give each model a unique personality. The glass, which is sometimes color-tinted, adds a luster to the work, making it feel fresh and alive.

Ray Turner: Population, is currently on view at the Wichita Art Museum. Population is an on-going project in which Turner paints the faces of local citizens at each stop of the nationally touring exhibition. The project is currently more than 500 portraits strong—and, at its completion, will become a compelling national portrait.

Now included, and on display at WAM’s exhibition, are the faces of 27 Wichitans. This gives the project an added air of excitement, as local visitors can find the faces of people they know, while discovering new ones as well.

Ray Turner: Population is a beautifully engaging show. It pulls viewers in slowly with a single row of square portraits metered along the opening wall. Then, a short video of Turner spurs us on to enter the gallery, where 300 individual portraits await. The large canvasses of his Good Man/Bad Man series and his works on paper fill out the exhibition and give a hauntingly complex finish to the show.