Journey Into Imagination: Dreamscapes

By: Eileen Watkins February 28, 1992
Published by The Star-Ledger

In style, the drawings, and prints of Charles S. Klabunde could be described as a cross between the woodcuts of Albrecht Durer and illustrations for Grimm's Fairy Tales.

He creates symbolic vignettes using Medieval or Renaissance figures and settings, to which the viewer may apply his own interpretations. The scenes could pertain to folk fables or to universal human truths. Klabunde exhibits nearly 50 of his works through March 21 in the Foosaner Gallery of the Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn.

Educated in the Midwest, the artist now divides his time between a studio in Manhattan and his gallery, Beyond the Looking Glass, in Frenchtown. He has shown his work throughout the U.S. and Europe, in such locales as the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the Borgia Palace in Rome, Italy.

His graphics have been purchased by heads of state, and he worked with the late playwright Samuel Beckett to produce seven original engravings for Beckett's script "The Lost Ones." He prints in one of the most difficult mediums, using four-color, hand-engraved copper plates, to produce contours and colors with an antique appearance.

"I choose to distance my work from the present by emulating the distant past," Klabunde explains. "This separation of time creates the psychic space which is necessary to construct images beyond our immediate perceptions, where the act of magic begins."

A few works adapt Biblical themes, with novel twists. A black, female angel reads a proclamation to the Virgin Mary, who rides a donkey, on the "Flight into Egypt." A woman seems to fly from a pond, carrying a baby and a basket, to represent "Moses in the Bullrush." Klabunde also creates a host of monsters, resembling those of Hieronymus Bosch but more whimsical, for his black-and-white triptych "The Temptation of St. Anthony."

Other compositions deal with mythological figures. A nude with feathery wings takes to the sky among geese and angels in "Birth of Venus." A mysterious, masked man with drooping wings sits brooding in the color print "Daedalus." "Winged Equus" and two female angels stand poised on a balcony, about to take off into the open sky...