Weisberg’s trompe l’oeil at JCC’s Patio Gallery

I’ve been hoodwinked, played, punked.

I was at the Patio Gallery to see the paintings of luscious desserts by Frank F. Weisberg, but first I decided to make a stop at the drinking fountain. My brain wasn’t fast enough to question why there was water inside the gallery — I was just thirsty. I was inches away from the fountain when I realized it wasn’t real but one of Weisberg’s photorealistic paintings titled “Have a Drink.”

Readers know I love trompe l’oeil, the act of rendering a two-dimensional work of art so realistically that it actually looks three-dimensional, a.k.a. “real.” So after I realized what had happened, I let out an excited whoop. Mr. Weisberg, you got me and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Weisberg is a master of photorealism as well as trompe l’oeil. His art in the show “Dessert Series (and More …)” makes you question whether you are looking at a photograph or an oil painting (the visual illusion is best from a slight distance). Most of the works are 24 inches by 36 inches, with items larger than they would be in life and in a photograph. This actually helps viewers to realize his technical skill.

Why desserts? “When I was looking for something to paint, I thought, ‘I love desserts! Everybody loves desserts,’” he states. “I buy the desserts, take a photograph, then I get to eat the dessert, which I enjoy.”

“A Piece of Cake” is my selection for the best pastry. One can get lost in those swirls of icing. “Cheesecake du Jour” —yes, please. I found “Mama Always Told Me Life is Like a Box of Chocolates,” of a Russell Stover box of candy, to be less effective than the single desserts. For some reason, the illusion wasn’t as strong.

For those who prefer fruit as dessert, there is a wonderful assortment of grapes, pears, apples and cherries. Can’t decide? There’s always the “Fabulous Fruit Tart” to tempt your palate.

“Apples By the Bag” features five apples that spill out of a paper bag onto a mirrored surface. The bag’s crinkled edges and folds hold the “it’s a photograph” illusion quite well. Glass and mirrors make wonderful reflective surfaces that both heighten the illusion and show technical capability, as in the glass container of “Life is a Bowl of Cherries.”

Weisberg paints the fruit against a background of black, as opposed to the brilliant blue he uses with his pastries. Both colors are used effectively to make the foreground pop.

I can’t decide if a painting of a dessert is good or bad. After all, you can’t eat it. Which is good if you prefer not to, but it just may inspire you to head to the nearest bakery. However you approach “Dessert Series (and More …),” know that Weisberg does what he does very well. •

About the Author

Weisberg’s trompe l’oeil at JCC’s Patio Gallery

Jo Anne Triplett is the contributing visual arts editor at LEO Weekly. She’s a past member of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Public Art, was the content advisor on the Glassworks Building video, and has written for Louisville Magazine, Kentucky Homes and Gardens and the national publication Glass Craftsman. Jo Anne came to Louisville from Washington, D.C. where she worked as a researcher and writer for the Smithsonian American Art Museum.



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