Magic realism has never gone out of fashion in literature, but it hasn’t had much of a presence in art since the late 1950s, when informed art-world tastes turned to bolder, bigger, less-allusive art. Over the last decade, though, the psychologically complex, dreamy paintings of Paul Cadmus, Jared French, George Tooker, Dorothea Tanning, Ivan Albright, and others have found an appreciative audience in artists who’ve grown up with books and movies (and video games) celebrating the impossible and unbelievable, not to mention sorcery. In Philadelphia alone, artists as stylistically diverse as Rob Matthews, Hiro Sakaguchi, and Judith Schaechter could all be said to be practicing a little magical thinking.
A hint of science fiction has wafted from Sarah McCoubrey’s beautifully painted, superordinary country landscapes for some time – there are signs of human activity, for instance, but no people to be seen. So her recent paintings and drawings at Locks Gallery