Andrew Wapinski "Transmutation" at Callan Contemporary
Born in Saint Clair, Pennsylvania, Andrew Wapinski is a visual artist whose current practice is rooted in the memories of interacting with the environment of the historic coal mining town in which he grew up. His work places great importance on the physicality of material and its relationship to artistic process. Melting blocks of pigmented ice, hand-ground anthracite coal and the collection of dust from his reductive painting processes lay the foundation for Wapinski to investigate interwoven themes of liminal space, reclamation and material significance as they relate to shifting environments and sense of place.
He will be presenting a solo exhibition entitled "Transmutation" at Callan Contemporary in New Orleans from September 1 - 30. The opening reception will be held on Saturday, September 1 from 6 - 9 pm.
Fluidity and change—the waxing, waning duet between human beings and nature—are the subjects of Andrew Wapinski’s formally elegant, conceptually rich mixed-media paintings on linen-mounted panel. In his debut exhibition with Callan Contemporary, Wapinski presents a suite of evocative abstract works, which project a contemplative, Zen-like serenity while encapsulating personal and anthropological narratives. The paintings flow from a time-intensive process that Wapinski first developed in 2013, in which ink- and pigment-infused ice melts onto canvas in controlled fashion, imprinting organic forms. “This establishes a foundation to open a dialogue between natural process and personal interaction,” the artist observes. “For me, the melting ice is symbolic of geological process and a metaphor for the passage of time.” Wapinski adds and excavates thin layers of gesso, responding intuitively to the shapes. A hard dividing line, or scission, emerges along with the forms through myriad additive and subtractive strata. This creates a texture differential reminiscent of the strip-mined hills he grew up around in St. Clair, Pennsylvania, and evokes the moment of potentiality when natural environment and human interaction, in cycles of construction and deconstruction, evolve together into something new. Organic gesture and geometry become interwoven in a mélange of personal memory and socio-geological critique.
Wapinski earned a B.F.A. in painting from Kutztown University (Pennsylvania) and an M.F.A. in painting from the University of Delaware. His work has been reviewed in publications such as The Washington Post, New American Paintings, and Artline and has been exhibited recently at Elmhurst Art Museum (Illinois), as well as galleries in New York, Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati. The paintings are included in significant private and corporate collections throughout the United States.
Influenced by minimalists Agnes Martin, Richard Serra, and Donald Judd, Wapinski’s sensibility also evokes the Land Art movement of the 1960s and 70s. In materiality and technique, the paintings allude to the primal call-and-response of man and nature, the shaper and the shaped, each altering the other’s trajectory from prehistory through the present day. In poetical greyscale tones and washes they speak to the dialectics of permanence and impermanence, the local and the global. The artist sees the works not only as metaphors for geologic processes, but also as embodying “a kind of alchemy: the idea of transmutation; the forms changing from one state to another; the shaping of material with intent.”
by Richard Speer
All images courtesy of the artist.