(Above: Paintings don’t have to be large or complicated to be intriguing, such as this portrayal of a closet by  artist Lindsay Kennedy)

By Randi Bjornstad

The title of the White Lotus Gallery’s new show — “Under 21: Small formats of Paintings and Prints” — is both descriptive and intriguing, descriptive because 21 inches is the largest dimension allowed in the show, and intriguing because of the level of detail that can be included and appreciated in such a small size.

“This is not a new concept — a lot of galleries like the (now closed) Jacobs Gallery in the Hult Center do shows of very small works of art,” Hue-Ping Lin, owner of the White Lotus Gallery, said as she surveyed dozens of pieces leaning against the gallery’s walls waiting to be hung.

An artist in a cooperative for artists in Bali created this tiny, intricate painting of a mythical lion-like creature called a “barong”

“But it’s a challenge to artists to work with small elements,” Lin continued. “The same amount of attention and detail goes into the small pieces as the large ones, and one of the things that I like is that it means a show can contain maybe 40 works instead of 20.”

From a business point of view, shows of small artwork also can make sense, she said.

“For example, you can do a show like this before a holiday so people can consider giving these small pieces as gifts where they probably would not choose to give a large one,” Lin said. “But when it’s not a holiday, a show of small pieces is good because people have more time to relax and really engage close-up and enjoy the work.”

With that in mind, in January she started looking around at what the gallery already has as well as other artists who might mesh with the concept, “and I realized there was plenty to put into this show,” Lin said.

Work by some of the artists, such as Katsunori Hamanishi, Kawase Hasui, Tanaka Ryohei, Charles Search, Gary Tepfer and Her Xue-Sheng, are seen fairly regularly in White Lotus shows, but this exhibit includes work by others, such as Lindsay Kennedy and members of an artistic co-op in Bali, that will be new to many viewers.

“It’s often hard for us as gallery owners to take on new artists, so this type of show is great because it allows us to introduce smaller pieces by talented artists that we might not be able to show otherwise,” Lin said. “And because of the small size, all the work is delicious and engaging, because you can see it up close and appreciate it.”

The challenge in putting such a show together is a bit like quilting, Lin said.

Chen Hai-Yan’s woodblock print tells the story of one of her dreams

“When you have a lot of small pieces, they don’t all complement each other. So it takes a lot of looking and considering to select the pieces that will create harmony. I think it is a little like composing.”

When she first looked at all the possibilities, sitting next to each other against the wall, waiting to be chosen, “I felt quite nervous,” Lin admitted with a laugh. “I was thinking, ‘all this wonderful work — how am I going to handle it?’ But then I began to choose and move things around, and I am very happy with what we have in this show.”

Under 21: Small formats of paintings and prints

When: Through March 24 (open to 8 p.m. on Feb. 2 during the Feb. 2 downtown Eugene First Friday ArtWalk)

Where: White Lotus Gallery, 767 Willamette St., Eugene

Gallery hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

Information: 541-345-3276 or wlotus.com