What the Critics Say...
Benjamin Forgey, "The Washington Star," ... the hallmark of her art, from 1949 to present, is an extreme clarity of idea and style. Asher has the consummate illustrator's gift for seizing the proper moment, gesture and form with which to depict a particular theme or idea. Her medium in print has been the linoleum cut, which perfectly suits her consistent use of clear-cut forms in strong blacks and whites, and her incisive, graceful, stylized way of drawing. Her themes over the years have been amazingly consistent, mother-and-child, couples, figures symbolizing timeless human situations, music, biblical stories. The pleasure in the show is to see the gradually increasing mastery with which she approaches her chosen visual vocabulary; a modest triumph, but a real one.. . . .Asher's work over the years is all of a piece, a consistent sensitivity, ability and style applied to accepted universal themes... Her figures from the earliest to the latest are defined by rhythmical contour, and there's scarcely a mistake in the show. In the later prints, an adult and child dancing Ring-around-a-Rosey or a female nude reclining on a bed, an unassuming virtuosity can be felt; the foreshortening is dramatic and correct, and yet none of the feel of classical repose is lost.
Paul Richard, "The Washington Post," Lila Oliver Asher's prints are the finest when most simple, strongest when gentle, "Prints from Life" is the title of her retrospective at Howard University, where she began to teach art 30 years ago. Asher, like Matisse, is able to suggest the weight and warmth of flesh without recourse to shading, with a single line. Her nudes, embracing lovers, and mothers stroking babies are affective because finely drawn and wholly unpretentious ... Something peaceful, quiet, a mood of graceful kindness rises from this show. © All rights reserved Lila Asher to order: c200 p.p. paper $ 23.00 #A2045 Willow Bend Books, a division of Heritage Books Inc. Leslie Wolfinger, Publishing Director 65 East Main Street Westminster, MD 21157-5026 Email:orders@HeritageBooks.com
Harold Horowitz. "The Washington Print Club Quarterly," What seems most wonderful about these works is the quality of lines. They may be incised in the uncut areas of the blocks or they may be the outlines of the shapes themselves. In either case, the linear elements of the designs are very powerful and are able to both define the forms and suggest the three dimensional properties as well. We take such talent in handling linear elements for granted when we look at prints by master draftsman Picasso. Lila Oliver Asher also has this rare ability.
Jo Ann Lewis "The Washington Post," ... black and white prints of mothers and children, lovers, musicians and single figures that predominate. The best of these are rendered with a single graceful arabesque, or series of arabesques, that somehow convey roundness-as well as the tenderness of an embrace, a gesture or touch-with out the use of shading or perspective. Made by cutting the image into heavy linoleum and then inking and printing it, the resulting white lines on black (or the reverse) perfectly suit her lyrical, linear style. Most often she uses line exclusively to describe her images, though occasionally she has printed with blocks of raw wood, using the raised grain for the background.
Frank Getlein, Author and Arts Critic, In her work she has embodied clearly, at times brilliantly, one of the fundamentals of all visual art during a time when fundamentals were fading fast. Lila Asher has stood for line. When her artistic ancestor, J.A.D. Ingres, said that drawing is the probity of art, he was talking about line, as is evident in a glance at any of his work. Like him, Asher has built her entire career in art upon the firm foundation of line. We are all the beneficiaries of that early decision - if even it was a conscious decision - on her part. Our eye follows her line and hears its music, even cues us to join the chorus. Her line sings sweetly, stands strongly, builds like an architect, makes shadow and texture like a weaver, shapes life, like the creator she is. Her message to us is as multi-farious as life itself, which she celebrates in every stroke.
"Art News", Lila Oliver Asher's prints illustrate mythology, the Bible, women with children, saints, lovers, etc., done in black and white with linear elements in white. Touches of orange, brown, red act as nice accents.
David C. Driskell, Professor of Art, Univ. of Maryland, The human figure has always been Asher's principal subject. She works with it with love and passion and endows each form with a realistic aesthetic that is bound in the classical antecedents from which traditional art sprang. While many creative people of Asher's generation have moved their artistry stylistically over the changing roads of modernism via abstract expressionism, pop, conceptual and other contemporary forms of making, she has remained a constant devotee to figuration and the narrative tradition. One of the most revealing aspects of Asher's artistry is the ease with which she moves with confidence from one medium to another without losing the keen sensibility of line and formal content that have always been present in her work.
"Pictures on Exhibit," Her simple uncluttered handling of subject, design, and mass, with flowing lines happily represent an artist with knowledge, good taste and flair.
"The Villager", N.Y.C., Her line is sharp. It has authority; it has beautiful movement also. Many of her subjects are biblical; "Expulsion of Hagar," "Joseph and His Brethren," "Jacob and Esau," "Prodigal Son." She is expert in figure groups. One of the loveliest in the show is 'Mother and Child" creamy white on soft blue. Her use of color in her prints is exceptionally imaginative.
Dorothy Hall, "Park East," N.Y.C., There are several mother and child prints with the simplicity and charm of line drawings, an excellent wood cut of A little "Boy with a Guitar," and a perfectly delightful study of two small boys playing follow the leader on a narrow ledge ... All of them attest not only to the artist's proficiency in draftsmanship but also to her great warmth and sensitivity."France-Amerique," N.Y.C., La Bible, La mythologie, la nature sensuelle de l'homme, les richesses sculpturales et charnelles de l'individu inspirent les belles gravures des Lila Oliver Asher, qui se sert de ce medium avec une rare elegance et sens infallible du rhythm. Beaucoup d'entre elles sont dans le gout et dans la maniere japonaise - les Japonais, ces maitres de la gravure sur bois - et les deux enfants, en noir et blanc lisant des journaux eparpilles a terre me parait resumer dans son equilibre, sa composition inhabituelle, son sens humoristique de se que vit, de ce qui bouge, l'epitome de son authentique talent.
Prentiss Taylor, professional lecturer, American Univ., In a time in which oblique and obscured statements have been the language of artists, Lila Oliver Asher has brought her concepts to a remarkable poise and lucidity. She has given visual substance to the profound forces of life, the unchangingly significant instances from mythology and the Bible, and the equally unchanging instances of warmth, affection and play from the intimate life of the family.
"Times of India" Bombay, On view at the American Cultural Center is a generous selection of prints by Lila Asher. They possess a deceptive simplicity, maybe because of the spare quality of the figurative arrangement. These prints actually possess an abundant humanity and imaginative visualization. The themes include human nudity in various forms (and one may say moods); expressions of love; Greek myths, and biblical episodes. The nudes are lovingly rendered. But mere love would not have served without a highly skilled draughtsmanship. Among the notable graphics here are Mother and Child (appealing despite the familiarity of the theme); Joseph and His Brethren (a simple but dramatic group arrangement) ; Eve, (the color of the apple core lending a lone but meaningful contrast to the black female nude) and Narcissus (showing an expert use of filled in areas).
John Shapley, Professor of Art, Geo. Washington Univ., She has both seen and imagined, and she has had the skill to record the results for our profit and pleasure. Stimulation from the subject matter of these prints must not take precedence over the appreciation of their design. In the language of design Mrs. Asher emphasizes line. Note the firmness in "Afternoon," and its litheness as it emphasizes the charming youthful poses of "Young Girls."
Robert Taylor, "The Boston Globe," Boston, Mass. Critic's tip, The exhibition of some 60 relief linoleum and wood block prints as well as silkscreen images ... she celebrates the joys of everyday living, the uniqueness of the "ordinary. "
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