“Except in struggle, there is no beauty.” These peculiar yet powerful words are the embodiment of Casey Ruble‘s multi-faceted exhibit that borrows heavily from the style and subject matter of Asian and Islamic art. A brief, yet striking exhibit, Except in Struggle epitomizes the beauty of battle, the art of attack, and the color of conflict.

Battle is the theme of every painting present in the gallery housing Except in Struggle. Horses leap and buck as warriors brandish blades and release furious battle cries, each creature taut with the fierce exhilaration battle brings. The viewer is caught up in the melee; one can almost hear the anguish of combatants killing and being wounded and the neighing of horses crashing frantically into bodies and other horses. But soldiers are not the only ones to fight; colors battle as valiantly as the people depicted. Complimentary colors clash, vivid patterns create violent friction, and cool, passive undertones contend with hot, vibrant shades.

The most striking feature of Ruble’s work is her choice of setting for the warriors depicted. Every crusade occurs in unlikely places of nature. Battle maidens tumble gracefully down an icy waterfall in a flurry of silver swords. Soldiers leap through the boughs of a cheery yellow willow tree, their bodies taut with deadly poise. Scarlet robins desperately flee the onslaught of a group of dark horsemen crashing through tangled bramble. Fighters burst through the fronds of verdant shrubs, slashing and slaying with fatal balance.

Each of Ruble’s works possesses the same rigid precision as combatants trained in the art of warfare. The name of the exhibit proves to be true, as the overall beauty of her art relies on fluidity of war and the splendor of struggle.