Froelick Gallery welcomes back Portland painter Tom Prochaska for his latest solo exhibition, Door Way. In his black and white canvases, Prochaska paints people engaged in manual labor, casual distraction and mysterious ritual. He shows us fishermen mending a net below dark cliffs; gawkers and carnival barkers milling about at the entrance to a roller coaster; a nude woman holding a comb as if examining herself in a mirror; an artist standing before a new white canvas, contemplating his first stroke. His figures and settings are indistinct yet imbued with personality and information.
A few works are devoid of people- standing at unusual cants and topped with chimney pots, his buildings suggest small European villages. In some of these, the absence of a person is significant, such as in Open Door, in which a dressing table, mirror and foot stool stand in a room, a dark flower resting in a vase on the table. A black doorway gapes at the left of the painting, which is a compositional position he often reserves for a figure, implying a passage from that concrete setting to an unknown space. Stripped of the easy appeal of color, these masterful works are intriguing in their restraint and narrative strength.